Leadership styles and CSR practice: An examination of sensemaking, institutional drivers and CSR leadership

Tamsin Angus-Leppan, Louise Metcalf*, Sue Benn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the explicit and implicit corporate social responsibility (CSR) framework and its implications for leadership style, in a major banking institution. Evidence for existence of the frameworks key concepts in relation to leadership styles was explored through the self-reported sensemaking of leaders charged with CSR programme introduction. Qualitative data analysis indicated that explicit CSR is linked to an autocratic leadership style, whereas implicit CSR is more closely aligned with emergent and authentic styles. Although our results reinforced key aspects of the explicit and implicit CSR framework, they demonstrated conflicting systems of both CSR and leadership within our case organisation and highlighted the difficulty in categorising such a complex concept as CSR according to specific frameworks. Overall, our data suggest that the leadership styles, needed to successfully implement explicit and implicit CSR programmes, are in conflict. Given our finding that these CSR systems can coincide within one organisation, we suggest that the debating style of transformational leadership may be the required linchpin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-213
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


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