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Searching for the holy grail of management development and sustainability: Is shared leadership development the answer?

Craig L. Pearce (CLP Associates LLC, Newberry Springs, California, USA)
Charles C. Manz (School of Management, University of Massachussetts‐Amherst, Amherst, Massachussetts, USA)
Samuel Akanno (School of Business and Entrepreneurship, American University of Nigeria, Yola, Nigeria)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 15 March 2013




The purpose of this paper is to shed some light on the linkage between leadership and sustainability. Recent scandals involving executive leadership have significantly contributed to the topic of sustainability becoming one of the most important concerns of the management literature in the twenty‐first century.


The authors’ approach is to review the extant literature and develop a theoretical model of the connection between leadership, in its many forms, and sustainability.


Most treatments of sustainability have focused on glorifying top executives for their sustainability efforts or vilifying them for their lack thereof. The authors claim that this perspective is oversimplified and flawed.

Research limitations/implications

The authors develop several readily testable propositions to guide future research.

Practical implications

The practical implications of the authors’ model are focused on the engagement of employees at work: the philosophical perspective espoused in the model is one founded on empowerment and active involvement.

Social implications

The model purports mechanisms through which organizations can develop more robust systems that ultimately can translate into more sustainable organizational practices.


The presented model is original in that the authors propose that broadening management development across all levels of organizations, along the lines of shared leadership theory, will facilitate organizational sustainability.



Pearce, C.L., Manz, C.C. and Akanno, S. (2013), "Searching for the holy grail of management development and sustainability: Is shared leadership development the answer?", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 247-257.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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