Reimagining Leadership on the Commons: Shifting the Paradigm for a More Ethical, Equitable, and Just World
ISBN: 978-1-83909-527-6, eISBN: 978-1-83909-524-5
Publication date: 29 September 2021
(2021), "Prelims", Singh, D.P., Thompson, R.J. and Curran, K.A. (Ed.) Reimagining Leadership on the Commons: Shifting the Paradigm for a More Ethical, Equitable, and Just World (Building Leadership Bridges), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. i-xxix. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2058-880120210000001022
Emerald Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2021 Emerald Publishing Limited
REIMAGINING LEADERSHIP ON THE COMMONS
REIMAGINING LEADERSHIP ON THE COMMONS
Shifting the Paradigm for a More Ethical, Equitable, and Just World
Devin P. Singh,
Dartmouth College, USA
Randal Joy Thompson,
Fielding Graduate University, USA
Kathleen A. Curran,
Fielding Graduate University, USA
United Kingdom – North America – Japan – India – Malaysia – China
Emerald Publishing Limited
Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley BD16 1WA, UK
First edition 2021
Copyright © 2021 Emerald Publishing Limited
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ISBN: 978-1-83909-527-6 (Print)
ISBN: 978-1-83909-524-5 (Online)
ISBN: 978-1-83909-526-9 (Epub)
ISSN: 2058-8801 (Series)
To all the Commoners throughout history who have sought a more ethical, equitable and just world.
May we finally achieve it together.
|About the Editors||xi|
|About the Authors||xiii|
|Foreword by Dr Marco Janssen, Past President of the International Association for the Study of the Commons||xix|
|Introduction Part I: Overview of Leading on the Commons||1|
|Randal Joy Thompson|
|Introduction Part II: Debt, Obligation, and Care on the Commons||31|
|Devin P. Singh|
|PART I: THE PARADIGM SHIFT|
|1.||Leading Regenerative Systems: Evolving the Whole Instead of a Part||59|
|Kathleen E. Allen|
|2.||Leading So All Can Thrive: Commons Leadership for Mutualistic Self-Organization||69|
|Elizabeth A. Castillo|
|3.||Redefining Leadership Through the Commons: An Overview of Two Processes of Meaning-making and Collective Action in Barcelona||81|
|4.||Responsible, Relational, and Intentional: A Re-Imagined Construct of Corporate-Commons Leadership||97|
|Kathleen A. Curran|
|5.||What Favelas Can Teach about Leadership: The Importance of Shared-Purpose and Place-Based Leadership||119|
|Renato Souza, Thomaz Wood and Brad Jackson|
|6.||From Governance to Leadership: Ethical Foundations for Value-Infused Leadership of the Commons||137|
|Catharyn Baird, Nancy Sayer, Jeannine Niacaris and Allison Dake|
|7.||Leading Proleptically on the Commons||157|
|Randal Joy Thompson|
|PART II: LEADERSHIP ON THE COMMONS LIFECYCLE|
|8.||Developing Leadership on the Commons: Animal Rescue||177|
|9.||Convening Leadership on the Commons: Initiating Stakeholder Networks to Solve Complex Global Issues||191|
|Patricia A. Clary|
|10.||Collaborating and Co-Creating Leadership in the Virtual and Not-So-Virtual Commons: Road Warriors, Communitas, and Culture||205|
|Gayla S. Napier and David Blake Willis|
|11.||Using Interorganizational Collaboration to Create Shared Leadership Through Collective Identity Development||223|
|12.||The Role of Leaders in Catalyzing Cooperative Behavior in the Governance of Nonprofit Sector Shared Resources: The Case of Early Childhood Education||243|
|Wendolly A. Escobar, Angela Titi Amayah and MD Haque|
|PART III: LEADING SPECIFIC TYPES OF COMMONS|
|13.||The Peoples’ Voice Cafe: Leading Collectively and Horizontally for More than 40 Years||257|
|Susan (Susie) J. Erenrich|
|14.||Open Data, Distributed Leadership and Food Security: The Role of Women Smallholder Farmers||273|
|Éliane Ubalijoro, Victor N. Sunday, Foteini Zampati, Uchechi Shirley Anaduaka and Suchith Anand|
|15.||Learning and Leading Together to Transform the World: Jesuit Higher Education and Ignatian Leadership Formation at the Margins||295|
|Dung Q. Tran and Michael R. Carey|
|16.||Traditional Leadership on the Commons: Main Challenges for Leaders of Community Organizations to Govern Rural Water in Ránquil, Chile||311|
|Camila Alejandra Vargas Estay, Noelia Carrasco Henríquez, Victor Manuel Vargas Rojas and Luis Gatica Mora|
|17.||Leadership of the Commons in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Protecting Natural Resources and Reclaiming Public Space||329|
|18.||Hopping the Hoops or Building a Communal Culture as the Most Significant Pillar of Leadership of the Commons||345|
|Katja Hleb, Miha Škerlavaj and Domen Rozman|
|19.||Job Commons: The Overlooked Dimension of Commons Leadership and Global and Local Governance||363|
About the Editors
Devin P. Singh (PhD, Yale) is Associate Professor of Religion at Dartmouth College as well as Faculty Associate in Dartmouth’s Consortium of Studies on Race, Migration, and Sexuality. He is the author of Divine Currency: The Theological Power of Money in the West (2018) and Economy and Modern Christian Thought (forthcoming), as well as articles in journals such as Political Theology, Journal of Religious Ethics, and Harvard Theological Review. He is also founder and president of Leadership Kinetics LLC which provides leadership coaching and strategic advising.
Randal Joy Thompson (PhD, Fielding) is a Scholar-Practitioner with 40 years’ professional experience in international development, serving in countries around the world. A Fellow with the Institute for Social Innovation, Fielding Graduate University, her research focuses on the commons, on gender, education, evaluation, and organization development. Her publications include Proleptic Leadership on the Commons: Ushering in a New Global Order (2020), Leadership and Power in International Development: Navigating the Intersections of Gender, Culture, Context, and Sustainability (2018) which won the Human Resource Development R. Wayne Pace HRD Book of the Year Award, and many chapters in ILA books.
Kathleen A. Curran (PhD, Fielding) is a Scholar-Practitioner with 25+ years’ professional experience in Asia, and practicing internationally. A Fellow with the Institute for Social Innovation, Fielding Graduate University and principal of Intercultural Systems, she specializes in developing global leadership in mindset and capability for spanning cultural boundaries. Her research focuses on co-creating freedom, equity, and belonging through global responsible leadership and talent development within the global enterprise. Recent publications include “Global Identity and Global Leadership: Knowing, Doing, and Becoming – Differently,” The Study and Practice of Global Leadership (2021); “Global Identity Tensions for Global Leaders,” Advances in Global Leadership, 12, (2019).
About the Authors
Kathleen E. Allen, PhD, is the Author of Leading from the Roots: Nature Inspired Leadership Lessons for Today’s World. She writes a weekly blog on leadership and organizations that describes a new paradigm of leadership based in lessons from nature and living systems. She is a Consultant specializing in leadership coaching and organizational change.
Angela Titi Amayah is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Management & Marketing at California State University, Bakersfield. Her research focuses primarily on leaders and their role in readiness for change. Other areas of interest include the experiences of women leaders in various cultures.
Uchechi Shirley Anaduaka is a Lecturer in the Department of Economics, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and the SDGs Research and Training Associate for Unique Mappers Network Nigeria. She holds a PhD in Economics from Lingnan University, Hong Kong. Her research interests focus on child and youth development, and women’s wellbeing.
Suchith Anand is Chief Scientist at Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition. He co-founded GeoForAll with a vision to make geospatial education and digital economy opportunities accessible to all, enabling a better future for everyone. He has mentored over 1,000 emerging leaders in sustainable development programs and initiatives worldwide through GeoForAll.
Catharyn Baird, JD, is the Founder/CEO of EthicsGame, LLC. Her research resulted in the development of the Ethical Lens Inventory™, a typology used by more than 550,000 people to determine ethical leadership style. Her TEDx presentation, Ethics for People on the Move, explores how to build strong cultures.
Robin Bisha, Professor of Communication Studies at Texas Lutheran University, teaches a course called Leadership for Social Change and participates in community service in animal welfare and rescue in South Central Texas. Her main research interest is the relationship between humans and animals.
Michael R. Carey, PhD, is an Associate Professor and Chairperson of Organizational Leadership in the School of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. He has taught leadership studies at the graduate level for over 30 great! years.
Elizabeth A. Castillo is an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University. She studies organization leadership and intangible assets like social, cultural, moral, and political capital. Her mission is to repair the world through research and teaching that promote thriving organizations, engaged employees, connected communities, and a world we can be proud to pass on to our children.
Patricia A. Clary, Doctoral Candidate, is a Scholar-Practitioner who dedicated her life to the common good of people and societies through service in nonprofit, public, and higher education sectors. A C-level executive, she is a skilled convenor through her work with United Way Worldwide, the City of Los Angeles, and Brandman University.
Allison Dake, PhD, is devoted to global development and working with organizations to solve complex issues. She blends her practical experience with her academic work in Values-Driven Leadership and Global Nonprofit Management.
Susan (Susie) J. Erenrich is a Social Movement History Documentarian. She uses the arts for social change to tell stories about transformational leadership, resilience, and societal shifts as a result of mobilization efforts by ordinary citizens. She is also the editor of The Cost Of Freedom: Voicing A Movement After Kent State 1970; Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: An Anthology of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement and co-editor of Grassroots Leadership & the Arts for Social Change & A Grassroots Leadership & Arts For Social Change Primer For Educators, Organizers, Activists and Rabble- Rousers.
Wendolly A. Escobar, PhD, currently serves as the Vice President of Family Engagement at the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. Her research interests include PK-12 family engagement policies and practices, social justice in education, and teacher preparation to engage families in educational settings.
Patricia Greer began practicing collaboration and leadership on her first-grade playground. She applies scholar practitioner practices honed over decades of teaching graduate students. Her grasp of common-sense solutions to problems strengthens multiple organizations in all three sectors. She earned a PhD in Leadership and Change from Antioch University.
MD Haque is an Associate Professor in the Organizational Leadership Doctoral Program at the University of LaVerne. He carries out research in the areas of Leadership and Organizational Change. His recently published work appears in Leadership and Organizational Development Journal, Journal of Organizational Psychology, Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, and Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration.
Noelia Carrasco Henríquez, PhD, is an Anthropologist and Doctor in Social and Cultural Anthropology. Associate Professor of the History Department at the University of Concepción. Director of the program CIDESAL (Research, Science, Development, and Society in Latin America), Deputy Researcher of the Center of Climate Science and Resilience, and Director of the Project SIMOL.
Katja Hleb is a Board and Ministry level Consultant in the areas of leadership and people development for 20 years. She has served more than 150 top end global or international companies in eight countries. At the moment, she is a PhD Student at SEB UL and her research focii include levels of consciousness in adults and responsible leadership.
Jan Hurst PhD, is an Independent Scholar and former Practitioner. Her academic background is in politics research and the governance of unemployment solutions. She has published an academic book, presented to the Academic Council on the United Nations System AGM (Rome), and the Centre for Ethics and Poverty Research (Salzburg), and attends a University of Cambridge labor market reading group (currently online).
Edin Ibrahimefendic, JD, is a Human Rights Attorney who works for the Ombudspersons Office in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He focuses on religious persecution and other violations. He has published chapters in ILA books, including “The Cellist of Sarajevo” and “Women’s Postwar Activism in Bosnia-Herzegovina: A Human Rights Approach to Peacebuilding and Reconciliation through Liminal Space.”
Brad Jackson is Associate Dean Strategic Engagement at The University of Waikato School and Professor of Leadership and Governance. His current research explores the inter-relationship between leadership and governance practices in promoting and sustaining social and economic innovation and the application of place-based approaches to foster cross-sectoral leadership development and education.
Marco Janssen is a Professor in the School of Sustainability and School of Complex Adaptive Systems at Arizona State University. He was President of the International Association for the Study of the Commons in 2019 and 2020. The research interest of Janssen is the study of the conditions of communities to self-govern their shared resources using computational modeling, behavioral experiments, and case study analysis. Recent projects focused on water management in Mexico City, participatory games to save water in rural India, comparative case study of lake organizations, and experiments on collective action in a virtual Mars habitat.
Antonio Jimenez-Luque, PhD, is Assistant Professor at the University of San Diego. His work explores how cultural, social, and historical perspectives influence conceptualizations and practice of leadership understood as a relational process of mobilization, emancipation, and social change. At the intersection of critical theory and intercultural studies, his main research topics are organizational culture and identity, decolonial leadership, and social change leadership.
Luis Gatica Mora is a Graduate in Conservation of Natural Resources from the University of Concepción. Currently is responsible for monitoring and researching for “Foresta Nativa” an ecological restoration project of the University of Concepción and implementing tools to make the restoration process more efficient.
Gayla S. Napier, PhD, obtained her doctorate in Human and Organizational Systems from Fielding Graduate University. With over 20 years of organizational consulting and executive coaching experience, her research focuses on the future of work, communitas, and belonging. She is an Associate Professor at the Jack Welch Management Institute.
Jeannine Niacaris, MA, is the COO of EthicsGame, LLC. She brings her passion for creating and sustaining value-based cultures to her work with leadership teams. She has experience as an executive and consultant in human resources, focusing on empowering people to become effective and ethical in the workplace.
Víctor Manuel Vargas Rojas, PhD, is a Researcher at the National Forestry Institute and Forest Engineer with a MSc in Natural Resources Economics and a PhD in Natural Resources and Sustainable Management. With 32 years of experience in Research and Development, he is FSC Lead Auditor. Lines of work include: Clean production, BMPs, Water Basin Management, Forest Certification, Local Monitoring, and Water Governance.
Domen Rozman is a TEDx Speaker and the Leader of the world-famous acrobatic team Dunking Devils. The team has performed more than 2,000 shows in 50 different countries while their amazing videos have been viewed more than 500 million times. The Dunking Devils moto is: “There is one true direction. Up!”
Nancy Sayer, PhD, is currently the CEO of Leadership Evolvement Institute. She provides coaching and consultation to leaders and organizations in the areas of change management, conflict management, leadership skills, team development and appreciative inquiry.
Miha Škerlavaj, PhD, is a Professor of Management at the School of Economics and Business University of Ljubljana and an adjunct professor of leadership and organizational behavior at BI Norwegian Business School. His research has been published in the Academy of Management Journal, the Harvard Business Review, and the Journal of Organizational Behavior.
Renato Souza holds a PhD in Business Administration at FGV EAESP. His research interests include Leadership Theory and Practice, Human Resource Management and Organizational Behavior. He has been working in the private sector as Human Resources Director for several companies in distinct segments such as FMCG, Education and Financial Services.
Victor N. Sunday is a Lecturer-Geospatial Information Science at University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. National Coordinator at Unique Mappers Network (UMT), Nigeria. GODAN-Nigeria Capacity Development Lead. Member-ISPRS WG IV/4. UNFPA Nigeria Delegate FOSS4G Bucharest. Community leader for OpenStreetMap, GeoForAll & Participatory Citizen Science, Nigeria. Chair of Geoformation Society of Nigeria, Rivers State, Nigeria.
Dung Q. Tran, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership program at Gonzaga University. He is co-editor of Servant-Leadership and Forgiveness: How Leaders Help Heal the Heart of the World (SUNY Press, 2020) and a contributing author to The Routledge Companion to Mindfulness at Work (Routledge, 2021).
Éliane Ubalijoro, PhD, is the Deputy Executive Director for Programs at Global Open Data in Agriculture and Nutrition. She is a Professor of Practice for Public–Private Sector Partnerships at McGill University’s Institute for the Study of International Development. She is a member of the Supervisory Board of the Capitals Coalition.
Camila Alejandra Vargas Estay, MA, is an English, Spanish, and German translator and master’s degree holder in Anthropology. Freelance Researcher in Social Sciences and Academic Research Consultant. Currently works in a project called SIMOL (Monitoring System for Local Community Participation in Integrated Water Basin Management) led by the University of Concepción, Chile.
David Blake Willis, Professor of Anthropology/Education, Fielding Graduate University (2008-Present) and Soai Buddhist University (Japan, 1986–2009), taught and did research at Oxford, Grinnell, and the University of Washington. His interests in anthropology, sustainability, social justice, immigration, leadership, and The Commons come from 38 years living in traditional cultural systems (Japan/India).
Thomaz Wood, Jr, is Full Professor at FGV EAESP. He is also the associate dean for research and directs the DBA program. He has published more than 20 books in the area of management. His research interests include business transformation, organizational change and the social impact of management research.
Foteini Zampati is a Legal Professional with over 18 years of experience. She works for the Association for Technology and Structures in Agriculture (KTBL) as a data rights research specialist, advising the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative on ethical and legal aspects of open data.
Marco Janssen, Past President of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Biologist Garrett Hardin (1968) argued that overuse of commons was inevitable since users would never self-organize. Hardin envisioned a pasture open to all, in which each herder received an individual benefit from adding sheep to graze on the common land and suffered costs only later (and shared with other herders) from overgrazing. Besides private property rights, an intervention such as taxing the use of common resources is the only possible intervention to avoid overharvesting of the commons.
Hardin’s judgment has been widely accepted due to its consistency with predictions from noncooperative game theory, the economics of resource use, and well-noted examples of resource collapses. The consequences of this work were significant, especially due to the privatization and nationalization of natural resources in many places around the world, ignoring existing institutional arrangements.
Communal property was equated with the absence of exclusive and effective rights and thus an inability to govern the commons. However, this was not the observation from scholars doing fieldwork on natural resource governance. In the mid-1980s, a group of interdisciplinary scholars who perform field studies began to discover that the empirical evidence was not consistent with conventional theory. In order to understand the diversity of outcomes from individual case studies, there was a need for synthesis. This happened through meetings of the National Research Council, starting in 1983. A large number of case studies were discovered that showed both successes and failures of self-organization of resource users. The resources included local fisheries, irrigation systems, pastures, and forests. This spurt of activities also led in 1989 to the establishment of the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC).
Founding IASC President Elinor Ostrom published her 1990 book Governing the Commons, in which an initial analysis of the meta-analysis was provided. She proposed eight so-called design principles that co-occur more frequently with successful governance of shared resources. Those design principles include clearly defined boundaries of the resource and eligible resource users, active monitoring and sanctioning, and inclusion of resource users in defining institutional arrangements to govern the commons. In the years since, subsequential studies have confirmed that those proposed design principles remain key to explain successes and failures (Baggio et al., 2016).
However, with increasing amount of data and comparative analysis of case studies in diverse resource domains, additional social and biophysical factors have been found to be influential. One of those factors for success is leadership (Gutiérrez, Hilborn, & Defeo, 2011). However, the observation that effective leadership correlates with success is of limited practical value. What defines an effective leader, what enables the presence of effective leadership and how we train effective leaders? The role of leadership is an underexplored topic in the study of governing the commons. Therefore, I am pleased to see this volume of leadership scholars focusing on the commons.
Current scholarship on the commons moved past the original focus on natural resources. The study of self-governance of communities to manage their shared resources has been applied to knowledge and data, health care, urban services, education, the use of Earth’s orbit, and many more topics. With the increasing spread of application areas, it becomes important to understand the role of leadership in diverse contexts.
At the time of writing this foreword, the pandemic of COVID-19 is in full swing. Handling the COVID-19 crisis requires governing various types of shared resources, from personal protective equipment and sanitizers, to vaccine development and distribution, health care workers, and hospital beds. The variety of ways countries and states are handling this crisis demonstrates the importance of leadership. The ability of leaders to set examples, provide priorities and coordinate between different stakeholders could make an important difference.
To conclude, leadership study is an important aspect in the study of the commons, and this volume provides an important contribution by bringing together a diverse set of studies on this topic.
Baggio, J. A., Barnett, A., Perez-Ibarra, I., Ratajczyk, E., Brady, U., Rubinos, C., …Janssen, M. A. (2016). Explaining success and failures in the commons: The configural nature of Ostrom’s Institutional Design Principles. International Journal of the Commons, 10(2), 417–419. doi:10.18352/ijc.634
Gutiérrez, N., Hilborn, R., & Defeo, O. (2011). Leadership, social capital and incentives promote successful fisheries. Nature, 470, 386–389. doi:10.1038/nature09689
Hardin, G. (1968). The tragedy of the commons. Science, 162, 1243–1248.
Ostrom, E. (1990). Governing the commons: The evolution of institutions for collective action. Cambridge, England, UK: Cambridge University Press.
The year 2020 turned out to be a year of shocks, a global pandemic, the exposure of dysfunctional social, economic, and political systems, protest, riots, extreme climate disasters, and toxic leadership. The pandemic became the defining symbol of a country in crisis. With one fourth of the coronavirus cases and deaths in the world and the virus out of control, journalists queried whether the United States was a failed state (Packer, 2020), whether the revolution was already underway (Spang, 2020), or whether coronavirus killed the revolution (Hamid, 2020). The public murder of African American George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer added to the chaos just as the world was reeling from the pandemic. The grief of losing loved ones to the virus combined with the economic recession and the uncertainty of the future ignited righteous anger and grief flamed by his murder and opened to the world the entrenched and vicious racist underpinning of American society. Fury and the determination to change the broken system spilled into the streets of cities around the world. “Black Lives Matter” became the cry that signified that the people had suffered enough. And just when it seemed like nothing more could go wrong, the presidential election threatened to undermine the foundations of democracy as the groundless cries of fraud and election stealing echoed throughout the country while the President attempted to overturn the election results through scores of baseless lawsuits and a final standoff in Congress. His false claims and inflammatory narrative resulted in the President’s insurrectionists shattering their way into the Capitol building in a revolutionary attempt to take over the government, in the “Worst Revolution Ever” (Flanagan, 2020).
Articles appeared during the year that highlighted the dire predictions of doomsayers such as Peter Turchin whose mathematical model predicted that 2020 would be a rough year followed by five or even 10 even rougher years (Wood, 2020). As he told Grame Wood, “the problems are deep and structural – not the type that the tedious process of democracy can fix in time to forestall mayhem” (Wood, 2020, para. 5). Based on the assumption that there are too many elites in the United States and not enough positions for all of them to hold, Turchin’s model predicts that competition between elites will ensue and some of them will turn against the others and support the masses whose standard of living has declined because of the growing inequality. As Turchin wrote, the masses will
accept the overtures of the counter-elites and start oiling the axles of their tumbrels. [People’s] lives grow worse, and the few who try to pull themselves onto the elite lifeboat are pushed back into the water by those already aboard. (Wood, 2020, para. 9).
Government hand-outs to quell the unrest and suffering will run out, security will increase as people protest and strike, and finally state insolvency will trigger social disintegration, Turchin concluded.
Well-known leadership gurus responded to the crisis and to the signs of impending doom in dramatically different ways. Margaret Wheatley, for example, who made her name with her 1994 book Leadership and the New Science, agreed that it was too late to rectify past mistakes and that collapse was inevitable. She pointed to authors such as William Ophuls (2012) who identified the historical signs of the end of civilizations and paralleled these with what was happening in the U.S. Ophuls (2012) highlighted the biophysical limits reached by ecological exhaustion, exponential growth, expedited entropy, and excessive complexity combined with human error manifested in moral decay and practical failure as signs of collapse. “A civilization declines,” Ophuls contended, “when it has exhausted its physical and moral capital” (2012, p. 65). Such was the state of the Western world, he concluded, and a “stupendous” global collapse lays on the near horizon.
We must salvage as much as possible, Ophuls wrote. Human survival will require a fundamental change in the ethos of civilization – to wit, the deliberate renunciation of greatness in favor of simplicity, frugality, and fraternity. (2012, p. 70)
Wheatley has devoted herself to empowering “warriors of the human spirit” who are called into dying civilizations to stand for what is good in humankind and to help where help is needed during the chaos of collapse. Warriors are to enter when fear pervades the people and wait for opportunities to help rather than to construct their own life course and intentions. Being a warrior requires intensive inner work of being a present, mindful, and calm spirit in a world of chaos capable of offering compassion and care to those suffering the terrors of civilizational collapse.
Other high-profile leadership gurus, such as MIT’s Otto Scharmer took the opposite stance during the pandemic. He organized global communities of hope, using the crisis to help create a more sustainable, equitable, and healthy world. Scharmer’s GAIA journey united over 10,000 people around the world in an online “impromptu global infrastructure for sensemaking, for leaning into our current moment of disruption and letting this moment move us toward civilizational renewal” (Pendle, 2020, para. 4). Through the practice of presencing, community members opened their minds, hearts, and wills and allowed the future to reveal itself through a process of social emergence and the economics of creation until what arose crystallized, prototyped, embodied, and then performed. Members continue to meet and implement personal, group, and community projects that emerged from the presencing process.
Others have preferred visual imaginations of a positive future that we build after the increasing chaos and possibly collapse. Social critic Naomi Klein’s 2020 video A Message from the Future II: The Years of Repair boosts the subtitle: If We Stop Talking About What Winning Looks Like, Isn’t It the Same as Giving Up? (The Intercept, 2020). Her video – a follow up to the award-winning video “A Message from the Future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” which painted a future in which people in the United States pulled together to launch the decade of the “Green New Deal” (The Intercept, 2019) – projects society into the probable future. The animated video paints the second pandemic of COVID in 2023, climate catastrophes, and the final realization that untamed economic growth equals sickness and death. Intensely struggling and fed up with dinosaur politicians, the people start protesting and striking, realizing that the only way forward is to build new systems. The people rebuild society starting with fundamentals such as local food, health, and education systems, while recognizing the importance of maintaining more-than-human systems. They return land to indigenous groups and form local collectives that are prepared for disasters and capable of ensuring that everyone has enough to meet their basic needs (See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2m8YACFJlMg).
The people, that is, build “a commons-centric society,” self-organized, self-governed, founded on community and care, and functioning outside the state and the private sector. Indeed, talk of the commons and a possible commons-centric society has become widespread in recent times. The pandemic highlighted the importance of the commons more than ever. Social organizations and groups stepped up to provide commodities and services to their local communities, illustrating the need to organize locally in order to take the provision of our basic needs into our own hands when the state and private sector fail us. In querying whether coronavirus would mean the end of neoliberalism, social critic Jeremy Lent (2020) posited that “this rediscovery of the value of community has the potential to be the most important factor of all in shaping the trajectory of the next era” (para. 33). The pandemic made it clear why people in crises historically have joined in commons in various parts of the world to stave off disaster. The crisis drove home the necessity for communities themselves to develop commons to provide the necessities of life, including food, water, shelter, medical care, among others.
We initiated this volume long before the pandemic shattered our normalcy. Yet, the pandemic and the revelation of crumbling systems made this book more significant than we initially imagined. People of the world may have to look more at local community commons to provide for our own survival as governments increasingly fail to adequately care for their people and the private sector cares only about their high-paid elite. Our intention in editing this book was to highlight the importance of the commons as well as to explore what leading on the commons looks like, since leadership on the commons has not been a focus of study by commons scholars and activists. Indeed, leadership is missing in most of the accounts of the commons by well-known scholars and activists such as Nobel-prize winning, now deceased Elinor Ostrom, David Bollier, Silke Helfrich, Massimo DeAngelis, Michel Bauwens, and others. Many of them have written that leadership will not be required in the future and that governance is all that will be needed. We disagree. We believe that the commons require some form of leadership and that it is important to reimagine leadership on this ancient, yet recently rediscovered form of organizing and acting in community.
Consequently, we published a call for proposals and received a large number of submissions from which we selected 17. We believe we have succeeded in selecting those that provide both theoretical arguments for and practical examples of particular approaches to leading on the commons. Authors hale from the United States, Great Britain, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, Nigeria, Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Slovenia. We have titled the volume Reimagining Leadership on the Commons: Shifting the Paradigm for a More Ethical, Equitable, and Just World because the authors have presented approaches to leadership that challenge the underlying paradigm of the self-maximizing economic man. They have based their leadership on a far more communal, open relational paradigm based on care, compassion, and responsibility toward others and toward the more-than-human.
By the time this book is published in late 2021, the U.S. will have a vaccine against COVID-19, a new administration will be in power, but climate change will still be worsening and the vitriolic partisanship that is tearing the country apart will still be raging. Hopefully, that will not be the time of another global disaster. In any case, we hope that the leadership approaches proposed by the authors will prove useful whatever the future presents, and that leadership on the commons can provide the world a path toward a more ethical, equitable, and just world – the kind of world we all yearn for. That possibility may be in our own hands to create. Studying the commons and leadership on the commons give us some hope, for as Kirwan, Dawney, and Brigstock (2016) wrote:
The idea of the commons offers a romance, and through this romance, a way forward, a way to think out of the despondent political narratives of ecological destruction, polarization and dispossession, and a counter-narrative to that of the inevitable and uncontrollable force of neoliberalism. Above all else, it offers a glimmer of possibility that change can occur incrementally, and that small acts matter. (pp. 3–4)
Flanagan, C. (2020). The worst revolution ever: Attacking the U.S. capitol is not an act of patriotism. Obviously. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/01/worst-revolution-ever/617623/
Hamid, S. (2020). The coronavirus killed the revolution. The Atlantic. March 25, pp. 7–26. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/coronavirus-killed-revolution/608680/
Kirwan, S., Dawney, L., & Brigstock, J. (2016). Space, power, and the commons: The struggle for alternative futures. Routledge.
Lent, J. (2020). Coronavirus spells the end of the neoliberal era. What’s next? The Broker: Connecting Worlds of Knowledge. Retrieved from https://www.thebrokeronline.eu/coronavirus-spells-the-end-of-the-neoliberal-era-whats-next/
Ophuls, W. (2012). Immoderate greatness: Why civilizations fail. Create Space Publishing.
Packer, G. (2020). We are living in a failed state. The Atlantic. June Issue. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/06/underlying-conditions/610261/
Pendle, D. (2020, May 25). GAIA journey and the healing potential of the social field. Presencing Institute. Retrieved from https://medium.com/presencing-institute-blog/gaia-journey-and-the-healing-potential-of-the-social-field-1e779dc1c588
Spang, R. L. (2020). The revolution is only getting started. The Atlantic. April 5. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/04/revolution-only-getting-started/609463/
The Intercept (2019, April 17). A message from the future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. [Video] YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9uTH0iprVQ
The Intercept (2020, October 1). A message from the future II.: The years of repair. [Video] YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2m8YACFJlMg
Wood, G. (2020). The next decade could be even worse. A historian believes he has discovered iron laws that predict the rise and fall of societies. He has bad news. The Atlantic, December 2020. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/12/can-history-predict-future/616993/
The journey of putting together this volume has been made possible and immeasurably more enriched by the support and commitment of a number of individuals to whom we are deeply indebted. The keen insights into necessary changes in the underlying paradigm that shapes the world and leadership theories and the commitment to the betterment of the world of the chapter authors have made this book both possible and promising. We as editors have benefitted from a life-enhancing learning process catalyzed by the leadership chapters of these contributors. The editors also owe a huge debt of eternal gratitude to Debra DeRuyver, Communications Director of the International Leadership Association (ILA). Debra, a superb editor and savvy production expert, supported us every step of the way, offering sound advice and guidance based on her many years of experience. We also would like to thank Cynthia Cherrey, President and CEO of ILA, Shelly Wilsey, COO, and Bridget Chisholm, Director of Conferences for their faith in us and support for our work. They and the rest of the ILA staff provided the foundation for making this book possible and providing us with the opportunity to make an impact. We are especially grateful for Dr Marco Janssen, Past President of the International Association for the Study of the Commons who agreed to write the Foreword to our book.
We would also like to thank all the reviewers of our book proposal for their insightful comments and recommendations. We greatly appreciate their confidence that our book would make a significant contribution to the leadership field. We would also like to acknowledge all the readers of this volume who we invite to join us on this journey of exploration of leadership on the commons. We look forward to engaging in a dialogue with all of you and in advancing our understanding of the factors influencing leadership in this domain as well as the values, principles, and competences that will help us all work together for a more ethical, equitable, and just world.
- Introduction Part I: Overview of Leading on the Commons
- Introduction Part II: Debt, Obligation, and Care on the Commons
- Part I: The Paradigm Shift
- 1. Leading Regenerative Systems: Evolving the Whole Instead of a Part
- 2. Leading So All Can Thrive: Commons Leadership for Mutualistic Self-Organization
- 3. Redefining Leadership Through the Commons: An Overview of Two Processes of Meaning-making and Collective Action in Barcelona
- 4. Responsible, Relational, and Intentional: A Re-Imagined Construct of Corporate-Commons Leadership
- 5. What Favelas can Teach about Leadership: The Importance of Shared-Purpose and Place-Based Leadership
- 6. From Governance to Leadership: Ethical Foundations for Value-Infused Leadership of the Commons
- 7. Leading Proleptically on the Commons
- Part II: Leadership on the Commons Lifecycle
- 8. Developing Leadership on the Commons: Animal Rescue
- 9. Convening Leadership on the Commons: Initiating Stakeholder Networks to Solve Complex Global Issues
- 10. Collaborating and Co-Creating Leadership in the Virtual and Not-So-Virtual Commons: Road Warriors, Communitas, and Culture
- 11. Using Interorganizational Collaboration to Create Shared Leadership Through Collective Identity Development
- 12. The Role of Leaders in Catalyzing Cooperative Behavior in the Governance of Nonprofit Sector Shared Resources: The Case of Early Childhood Education
- Part III: Leading Specific Types of Commons
- 13. The Peoples’ Voice Cafe: Leading Collectively and Horizontally for More Than 40 Years
- 14. Open Data, Distributed Leadership and Food Security: The Role of Women Smallholder Farmers
- 15. Learning and Leading Together to Transform the World: Jesuit Higher Education and Ignatian Leadership Formation at the Margins
- 16. Traditional Leadership on the Commons: Main Challenges for Leaders of Community Organizations to Govern Rural Water in Ránquil, Chile
- 17. Leadership of the Commons in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Protecting Natural Resources and Reclaiming Public Space
- 18. Hopping the Hoops or Building a Communal Culture as the Most Significant Pillar of Leadership of the Commons
- 19. Job Commons: The Overlooked Dimension of Commons Leadership and Global and Local Governance