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Leadership, Sustainability and Wellbeing

Special issue call for papers from Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal

Special issue on Leadership, Sustainability and Wellbeing

Guest Editorial Team:
Professor Jem Bendell, Institute for Leadership and Sustainability, University of Cumbria, UK
Richard Little, Impact International, UK
Dr Neil Sutherland, Bristol Business School, University of West of England, UK

With limited progress being achieved towards sustainable development at an aggregate level, recently more people in business and civil society are calling for more leadership(1). Calls for greater leadership often leave the concept of leadership undefined. As such, assumptions about leadership shape the implications and impact of such calls. If this new interest in leadership for sustainability is to engender swifter change, we need greater understanding of leadership and how it can be enabled. The emerging field of critical leadership studies, which applies sociological deconstruction to mainstream myths about leadership, may be of relevance (2).
Sustainability is an abstract concept to many non-specialists and as such is limited in its ability to offer an alternative framing to current dominant notions of economic progress (3). On the other hand, the concept of wellbeing has wide recognition, and in recent years has attracted a wide range of intellectual engagement, research and policy discussion. Often this research has focused on individual wellbeing, and has approached the topic of society-wide wellbeing as an aggregation of individual experiences, rather than approaching it as a whole system shaped by sociological and ecological factors. Re-contextualising wellbeing in terms of wider sustainability offers a more comprehensive approach. It also suggests that workplace wellbeing and resilience be addressed without assuming commercial pressures to be unchangeable through social action.

For this special issue of the Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal (SAMPJ), in collaboration with the Leading Wellbeing Research Festival, we are primarily interested in research that explores issues of leadership for sustainability or wellbeing. We invite both conceptual and empirical submissions drawing on a range of theoretical perspectives and qualitative methodologies.

While not representing an exhaustive list, the following topic areas highlight important research themes:  
•Forms of emergent, distributed and purposeful forms of leadership that are relevant to sustainability or wellbeing.
•Insights on leadership from multiple contexts and sectors, not only within large corporations.
•The processes of leadership development towards either sustainability or wellbeing.
•The potential of wellbeing concepts, agendas and practices for sustainable development, and vice versa, with implications for leadership.

Papers submitted to the special issue will undergo a double blind review process. Submissions to the journal are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts, the online submission and peer review system. Registration and access is available at: ScholarOne will open for submissions shortly. Guidelines for authors can be found at:

This special issue of SAMPJ is in collaboration with the Leading Wellbeing Research Festival, organised by the University of Cumbria and Brathay Trust, in the Lake District (UK), on July 16th-18th 2015 ( However, submissions to this special issue can be made directly without also submitting to the conference.

Important dates:
Submission of papers for consideration by the special issue of SAMPJ: September 1st 2015
Leading Wellbeing Research Festival Important Dates:
Submission of Abstracts: February 3rd 2015
Submission of papers for inclusion in proceedings: June 30th 2015

The aim of the Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal is to find practical and policy solutions to improve the social and environmental sustainability performance of (private, public sector and non-governmental) organisations and societies. SAMPJ provides a forum for quality research contributions with practice and policy implications concerning the interactions between social and environmental sustainability, accounting, management and policy. The contributions are drawn from differing socio-economic and political environments with an international, national or organisation specific analysis taking a single, inter- or multi- disciplinary perspective.

(1) Adams, C. et al (2011) The development of leaders able to respond to climate change and sustainability challenges: The role of business schools, in Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Volume: 2 Issue: 1, 2011.
(2) Sutherland, N. et al (2014) Anti-leaders(hip) in Social Movement Organizations: The case of autonomous grassroots groups, in Organization, November 2014 21: 759-781.
(3) Bendell, J. and I. Doyle (2014) Healing Capitalism, Greenleaf Publishing, Sheffield, UK