Responsible Leadership in Rising Economies

Hosted by IEDC-Bled School of Management, Postgraduate studies, this specialized conference was held 23-25 Oct. 2019, in Bled, Slovenia, in collaboration with the following Divisions and Interest Groups of the Academy of Management: Management Education and Development, Organizational Behavior, Organizations and the Natural Environment, Social Issues in Management, and Strategic Management.

An online photo album with 50 pictures is also available.

View the Conference Proceedings.

Conference Theme

Responsible Leadership in Rising Economies Responsible Leadership is the topic of much debate in both academic and practitioner circles. Critics have pointed out that management education and scholarship often fail to develop the critical, creative, and socially relevant and responsive mindsets that are required to transform businesses and society, and to solve global challenges while being locally responsive.

This AOM specialized conference looked at what “responsible leadership” means in the context of a rapidly changing world, particularly in rising and transforming economies. We also explored how the scholarly management community, in collaboration with businesses, policy makers, NGOs, media, and other stakeholders interested in the new role of business in society, could best support the development of responsible management and sustainable innovation.

Conference attendees had the opportunity to network in a global environment, witness first-hand how old and new come together in the rising economies of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as experience the charming hospitality of one of Europe’s greenest destinations, surrounded by enchanting natural scenery. Lake Bled is considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world and IEDC-Bled School of Management, Postgraduate studies is one of the leaders in innovative management education worldwide.

Conference Tracks

TRACK 1: Implications for Management Education (MED) This track explored how the development of responsible management and sustainable innovation can be supported by designing modes of learning that challenge fundamental assumptions about leadership and responsibility. Responsible Management continues to receive prominence both as a field of research and practice, as it centers on managerial learning and how such learning relates to change and innovation for sustainability, responsibility and ethics. It is also fast emerging as a critical approach to leading that seeks to make a difference in addressing global environmental and societal challenges. Illustrative questions that we week to address focus on how leadership and responsibility are intertwined, both respectively and collectively. How are they developed? How might professionalism be redefined if responsible management and leadership are intended to guide conduct and associated actions? What are the explicit and implicit constraints, possibilities and consequences generated by organizational learning environments that facilitate and impede responsible management practices and sustainable innovation? How do organizations contribute or respond to a need for responsible leadership and which ethical dilemmas arise as a result? Which ideologies and strategies are used to further and legitimate responsible leadership? What are the main methodological issues when researching responsible leadership and leaders? Which existing theories best inform our understanding of reshaped landscapes of the modern learning environment? To what extent are we in need of a new learning and leadership theory?

TRACK 2: Responsible Leadership and Organizational Behavior (OB) This track theme, with an emphasis on rising economies, broadly examined the impact of responsible leadership on individuals and groups within an organizational context. The track welcomed submissions from researchers that explore such questions as: How and why do people become responsible leaders? How can organizations foster the development of such leaders? How do responsible leaders influence employee attitudes and behavior? How do responsible leaders shape the way in which employees work and collaborate with internal (e.g., teams) and external stakeholders? To what extent does responsible leadership contribute to “doing good” (e.g., promoting citizenship behaviors) vis-à-vis “avoiding harm” (e.g., reducing counterproductive work behaviors)? How does responsible leadership influence organizational performance and what are the various processes through which this occurs? Does the influence of responsible leadership on organizational, team and employee outcomes differ as a result of cultural, institutional and organizational factors? Do levels of responsible leadership vary across cultures and industries and, if so, why does this occur? How might we best conceptualize and measure responsible leadership? Does responsible leadership help companies to attract and retain talent, and if so, why? When might responsible leadership not always lead to desired outcomes?

TRACK 3: Responsible and Sustainable Innovation (ONE) The track theme sought submissions broadly engaged with responsible and sustainable innovation. Contributions from adjacent fields of research (social innovation, eco-innovation, social entrepreneurship, innovation management, innovation systems, etc.) were welcomed. We particularly encouraged submissions of both scholarly and practical relevance, addressing such questions as: How do responsible and sustainable innovation link up with corporate sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility? How can principles of sustainability and responsibility be applied to innovation and innovation management, especially in the context of radical innovation? How do concepts of responsible and sustainable innovation relate to well established business approaches? Is there a business case for responsible and sustainable innovation? Which practices and strategies do organizations apply to achieve innovation that reduces potential negative impacts and enhances positive impacts on society and the natural environment? How should responsible and sustainable innovation performance be measured? Which tools and methods can be applied to achieve more responsible and sustainable innovation? How can established approaches, such as co-creation, citizen and user engagement, design thinking and open innovation, be adapted to enable responsible and sustainable innovation? How should organizations deal with potential conflicts of interest and ambiguity in responsible and sustainable innovation? What types of conflict may arise within responsible and sustainable innovation processes (e.g. openness and inclusion vs. intellectual property)? How do companies and related actors resolve such conflicts? How can innovation governance enable more responsible/sustainable innovation? What role do networks, multi- stakeholder initiatives and other forms of collaboration among organizations play in fostering responsible and sustainable innovation?

TRACK 4: Transformative Ethics, Governance, and Stakeholder Horizons for Advancing Leadership and Responsibility (SIM) This track theme challenged participants to go beyond established paradigms of business in society relationships, including individual and organizational ethics, corporate and systemic governance, and stakeholder relationships, to explore and generate next-generation theories, mechanisms, and applications that support responsible management and sustainable innovation in dynamic rising economy contexts. Wicked problems threatening societal well-being are also opportunities for reimagining the role and responsibility of leadership and business to advance social transformation and sustainable development. Embedded within this context, areas of focus might include such considerations as: What paradigm shifts are needed to promote issues such as human rights and dignity, ecological protection, community well-being, and societal flourishing as pillars of responsible leadership? What key dimensions of responsibility intersect with pillars of social progress and environmental protection unique to rising economies? How can we understand the role, influence, structure, accountability, and interactions of different types and levels of actors, including governance, necessary for responsible leadership? How is the articulation of or adherence to moral norms, values, and principles relevant to leadership responsibility and healthy economic transformation? What business and organizing trends may be harnessed as beneficial, or avoided as harmful, to the development of robust firm-environment interactions and responsible leadership? In what ways might social innovation transform the potential scope and impact of responsible leadership?

TRACK 5: Strategic Management and Sustainable Development (STR) This track theme sought to understand how various players—from start-ups and established firms, and nonprofit and for-profit organizations, to the finance and investing community—can develop innovative solutions to mitigate market failures and have a positive social impact, while growing and sustaining their operations over time. We particularly encourage submissions related to emerging economies, focusing on such questions as: Which governance mechanisms encourage responsible corporate behavior, the adoption of longer time horizons, and corporate actions aligned with long-term societal goals (such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals)? What are the opportunities and challenges of crowd sourcing, technological innovations, and financial innovations to help mitigate market failures and have a positive impact on society, the natural environment, and the economy? What is the role of corporate political responsibility―especially in absence of government leadership―and non-market strategy in shaping government policies to reach sustainable outcomes at the societal level? What are their implications for firm performance? What role and impact do social movements and shareholder engagement have in influencing strategic decision-making processes? What are needed improvements in the assessment, disclosure, and standardization of non-financial metrics? What role could inter-organizational relationships of non-profit, for-profit, and hybrid organizations play in developing innovative and sustainable solutions to overcome grand challenges faced by emerging (and other) economies? What are the implications of societal issues―such as increased obesity, food scarcity, forced migration, discrimination, social and economic exclusion, and climate-change risks―on firms’ competitive strategy and their inter-organizational relationships with non-profit, for-profit, and hybrid organizations?


Over 200 attendees came together from more than 45 countries for 3 days of presentations, Professional Development Workshops, and Panel Discussions. Attendees had the unique opportunity to meet editors from AOM’s 6 journals and receive feedback and guidance on their manuscripts for submission to an Academy Journal. Responsible Leadership in Rising Economies was held in Bled, Slovenia from 23–25 October 2019.

View the Conference Program here:
Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

Conference Organizers

  • Danica Purg, IEDC-Bled School of Management
  • Anthony Buono, Bentley University
  • Drikus Kriek, IEDC-Bled School of Management
  • Rok Ramšak, IEDC-Bled School of Management
  • Barbara Vilfan, IEDC-Bled School of Management

Sponsors, Contributors, and Supporters

Signature Sponsor

The Donahue Center for Business Ethics & Social Responsibility

The Donahue Center for Business Ethics & Social Responsibility, in the Manning School of Business at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, was established through the generosity of Nancy and Richard Donahue with the mission to enhance our collective understanding and application of the value of doing well by doing good. The focus of the Donahue Center, a university center of excellence, is to expand education in ethics and social responsibility by advancing initiatives and programs to support student learning, faculty teaching and research, and the application of ethical awareness and responsible decision-making in business and organizing. The Donahue Center empowers transformational change by supporting the advancement and application of techniques and tools that help students build individual and collective capacities for acting knowledgeably, responsibly, and sustainably–ethically–one interaction and decision at a time.

Institutional Contributors

Bentley University

Bentley University is one of the nation’s leading business schools, dedicated to preparing a new kind of business leader with the deep technical skills, broad global perspective, and high ethical standards required to make a difference in an ever-changing world. To achieve these goals, the university infuses an advanced business curriculum with the richness of a liberal arts education, blending the breadth and technological strength of a large university with the values and student focus of a small college. The university enrolls approximately 4,200 full-time undergraduate and 1,200 graduate students on a classic New England campus just minutes from Boston. Bentley is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), AACSB International (The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), and the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS).


CEEMAN is an international management development association established in 1993 with the aim of accelerating the growth in quality of management development in Central and Eastern Europe. Now it is a global network of management development institutions interested in quality of education and innovations in this field, as well as in the broad area of subjects related to change, with close to 200 members from 45 countries in Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa, and Asia.


The World Institute for Sustainability and Ethics in Rising Economies (WISE) is a collaboration of four centres of excellence which address the most relevant business challenges of today from a truly global perspective by bridging local entrepreneurship with global thought leadership. With offices in Germany, South Africa, and China and headquartered at IEDC-Bled School of Management, Postgraduate studies, WISE aims to serve professionals in the field of sustainable business (encompassing business ethics, CSR and sustainability) within rising economies through practice relevant research, education and networks. WISE activities are proudly sponsored by NLB and Luka Koper.

Conference Supporter

RAE-Revista de Administracao de Empresas

RAE-Revista de Administracao de Empresas (RAE - Journal of Business Management) is published by FGV´s Sao Paulo School of Business Administration since 1961, and it has had a historical role in building the academic field of Administration in Brazil. A pioneer publication since it was created, RAE has played a prominent role in the business academic community in Brazil to this day, standing out for its high quality and its academic rigor. It publishes original articles reviewed through the double blind review system, offering a generalist approach in Administration.

The Impact Factor (IF) of RAE increased in international indexers such as JCR, Scopus, SciELO and Redib. In the Journal Citation Reports (JCR), the increase was over 70% according to the latest ranking released by Clarivate Analytics (June 2019), up from 0.404 (2017) to 0.701 (2018). This ranks RAE among Brazil’s top ten journals indexed in the WoS/SSCI database.

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