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The journey of self, nature, technology and sustainable organisational design: Insights for transformative leadership praxis

Gardner, S. and Paulin, S.ORCID: 0000-0002-1234-4762 (2018) The journey of self, nature, technology and sustainable organisational design: Insights for transformative leadership praxis. In: Brueckner, M., Spencer, R. and Paull, M., (eds.) Disciplining the Undisciplined? Springer International Publishing, pp. 243-254.

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In this chapter, we seek to advance the notion that the evolution of ‘Self’, organisational design and leadership thinking and an Eco-centric versus Ego-centric worldview—are a precondition for true sustainability and survival for organisations and interdependent local and global ecosystems in 2017 and beyond.

We develop this position with reference to Historical, Sociological, Literary and Philosophical precedents, leading-edge organisational and leadership theory, topical reports on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) global standards, practices and metrics, and our own reflective practice narratives. This rich body of knowledge and expertise is used to illustrate the potential costs of the contested relationship between humans and nature from classical times into the current digital era. We argue that to truly understand human, organisational and broader ecosystems dynamics in a complex and emerging environment, non-linear interpretive methodologies are required versus traditional positivist empirical investigations.

Based on this approach and extensive conversations with other experienced academic researchers, teachers, and consultants actively involved in organisational change and design, stakeholder and community engagement, we conclude that even the most progressive Corporate Social Responsibility and corporate social integration organising and leadership models such as Conscious Capitalism and Shared Value are trapped in the Ego-centric self-serving worldview. By contrast we explore the potential of the Eco-centric worldview and allied organisational design and reward practices based on—shared values, self-transcending purpose, personal insight, and creative use of digital technologies for collaboration, problem-solving, and knowledge sharing in high trust social networks.

Having explored how some of these principles can be applied within leading-edge, radical leadership and organisational design frameworks such as—Theory U and Teal organisations, we revisit the notion of the digital double-edged sword. This represents massive, previously unimaginable power and agency which human beings can exercise through interconnected digital networks for better or for worse. We argue that ‘for better’ translates as a unique opportunity to change the way that we lead and design organisations and balance risk and opportunity for humankind, natural systems, and the planet.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Business and Governance
Publisher: Springer International Publishing
Copyright: © 2018 Springer International Publishing AG
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