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Leadership's influence on innovation and sustainability: A review of the literature and implications for HRD

Alina M. Waite (Department of Human Resource Development and Performance Technologies, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana, USA)

European Journal of Training and Development

ISSN: 2046-9012

Article publication date: 1 January 2014



The aim of this study is to review published articles within the HRD and related fields to identify relationships between disparate streams of research (leadership and innovation and sustainability).


Academic research supports the complex relationships between leadership and innovation and leadership and sustainability. An integrative literature review of published articles is used to gain an understanding about effective leadership as an important link between innovation and sustainability.


The analysis revealed the parallel research streams are rather isolated from one another. Central themes focused around leadership roles, orientations, practices, and influences; leadership capacity building; and (global) leadership development. Emergent themes with respect to sustainability included global mindset and concern for others. Servant leadership was brought forth.

Research limitations/implications

The literature review was drawn from the four Academy of Human Resource Development (AHRD) journals, as well as sources from the human resource management (HRM), business and management, and related fields.

Practical implications

The study discussed influences of leadership on innovation and sustainability, mindsets and competencies, and leadership development strategies for use in understanding how to foster innovation and sustainable practices. Developmental activities including experiential learning, action learning, and service learning programs were considered.


This article is among the first to highlight leadership as a connection between innovation and sustainability and provides a valuable platform for HRD scholars and practitioners interested in enhancing leadership capacity and development in these areas.



M. Waite, A. (2014), "Leadership's influence on innovation and sustainability: A review of the literature and implications for HRD", European Journal of Training and Development, Vol. 38 No. 1/2, pp. 15-39.



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