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Social Innovation Through Spiritual Leadership


  • Lauren Klaus

    (Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Australia)

  • Mario Fernando

    (School of Management, Management Science and Marketing, University of Wollongong, Australia)


There have been increasing calls for business leaders to follow profit making strategies that are aligned with a social purpose. The challenge for leaders is to identify and develop novel and unique organisational initiatives promoting better alignment between the competing interests of business and society. Social purpose related profit making often requires organisations to generate socially innovative ways of operating businesses. In this paper, we examine how social innovation is promoted by successful leaders in organisations through spiritual leadership. Using Parameshwar’s (2005) ego-transcendence based spiritual leadership model, we explore the processes through which business leaders can foster social innovation. Spiritual leadership can help leaders with ethical decision making and help their organisations create a healthy balance between profits, people and the planet (Fernando, 2011). It is in this context that this paper explores the role of spiritual leadership in generating profits whilst at the same time delivering win-win outcomes to organisation’s stakeholders and society through socially innovative ideas. This paper reports on influential business leaders who are credited by the media for pioneering social innovations. Leader case studies are analysed using a cross-case and within-case analysis of representative excerpts from publicly available data. We analyse in particular the instances of oppressive conditions of personal and business failures. These highlight the extreme conditions of human adversity and oppression, which demands engaging several dimensions of leader behaviour to overcome the challenging circumstances. The study aims to capture the processes these successful leaders use when overcoming challenges to create socially innovative ideas. By exploring the responses of the selected business leaders to the challenging circumstances of their social innovations, this paper describes the potentially significant role played by spiritual leadership, particularly the role of higher purpose, in the development of social innovations.

Suggested Citation

  • Lauren Klaus & Mario Fernando, 2013. "Social Innovation Through Spiritual Leadership," Social Responsibility, Ethics and Sustainable Business 26-27, Bucharest University of Economic Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:aes:icsrog:wpaper:26-27

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