How to Kill a Sustainable Enterprise: A Not so Fictional Case

By:
Dr. Harald Bergsteiner,
Prof. Gayle C. Avery
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In Leadership for Sustainable Futures, Avery (2005) derives 19 criteria from research into successful companies operating world-wide to reflect two fundamentally different, but self-reinforcing and self-sustaining, leadership systems known as Anglo/US and Rhineland leadership. Among the most critical opposing elements in the systems are: shareholder vs multiple stakeholder focus, short-term vs long-term perspective, distrust of vs subservience to the financial markets, and seeing staff essentially as a cost rather than as a primary asset. By changing only one of the 19 elements, namely staff retention, a hitherto sustainable enterprise begins to break down. Finally, Rhineland leadership turns into Anglo/US leadership. Innovation, trust, risk taking, self-management, collaboration and other Rhineland elements collapse when 10 percent of the workforce is dismissed. The paper illustrates the importance of recognizing the systemic nature of leadership practices and how the practices adopted can strengthen or weaken a firm’s chances of sustainability in many areas.


Keywords: Leadership, Sustainable Leadership
Stream: Economic Sustainability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: How to Kill a Sustainable Enterprise


Dr. Harald Bergsteiner

Researcher, Macquarie Graduate School of Management, Macquarie University
Australia


Prof. Gayle C. Avery

Professor, Graduate School of Management, Macquarie University
Australia

At Macquarie Graduate School of Management since 1997, Professor Gayle Avery focuses on leadership and people management. She brings extensive international experience as academic, consultant and entrepreneur in Australia, the US and Europe. While in Germany, she “Germanized” leadership development programs for the Center for Creative Leadership, and is co-developer of the Integrative Leadership® model. Each year, Professor Avery visits global companies searching for best practice in leadership and sustainable management, where she identifies alternatives to prevailing leadership practices. She has worked in both public and private sectors, and has been involved in designing and executing leadership development programs for middle and senior management in major Australian and international organizations throughout the Asia Pacific region. Author of many papers, her recent books are Understanding Leadership: Paradigms and Cases (Sage, UK, 2004) and Leadership for Sustainable Futures: Achieving Success in a Competitive World (Elgar, UK, 2005).

Ref: S06P0263