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Well-being as a staged social responsibility process: exploratory testing of a new theory

Lance Richard Newey (Department of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, University of Queensland Business School, Brisbane, Australia)
Rui Torres de Oliveira (Department of Management, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
Archana Mishra (Department of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)

Social Responsibility Journal

ISSN: 1747-1117

Article publication date: 11 February 2022

Issue publication date: 26 January 2023




This paper aims to extend the conceptualization of well-being as a staged social responsibility process by undertaking further conceptual development of these ideas as well as exploratory, small-scale international testing.


The sample comprised 117 leaders from Alaska, India and Norway. Cluster analysis was used to determine systematic differences in the way leaders think about societal well-being (well-being action logics), and regression analysis was used to test positive and significant relationships between well-being action logics and stages of consciousness.


Cluster analysis confirmed the three theoretically derived well-being action logics of top managers: compensatory, integral and hybrid. The authors found preliminary empirical support for a systematic relationship between well-being action logics and stages of consciousness as per constructive-developmental theory.

Practical implications

Better adoption of societal well-being as a normative ethic hinges on building the capacity of top managers to process more complex understandings of the range of components of societal well-being and how these components interact, conflict and synergize.

Social implications

Being asked to embrace more complex views about societal well-being can be overwhelming, leading top managers to retreat into defensiveness. The result is resistance to change, preferring instead to stay with familiar yet outmoded conceptions. Societal well-being can thus suffer.


This paper opens the black box to find systematic differences in the way managers think about societal well-being. Further, the research has uncovered that these differences follow a staged developmental process of greater complexity.



This paper benefited greatly from the feedback of Neal Ashkanasy andrew Pettigrew, Peter O’Connor, Charlotta Siren and Matthew Hornsey. The authors also acknowledge the help of Tam Nguyen on the statistical part of the manuscript.

Research funding: This research was funded by a partnership of primary and secondary schools. They funded the research to improve their own leader development programs. The authors sincerely thank Kelvin Grove State College, Indooroopilly State High, John Paul College and Ironside Primary Schools, all of whom are passionate about developing a new generation of well-being leaders.


Newey, L.R., Torres de Oliveira, R. and Mishra, A. (2023), "Well-being as a staged social responsibility process: exploratory testing of a new theory", Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 286-304.



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