Globally Responsible Business Leadership - Asian perspectives


Key deadlines:

Submission of abstracts

In the first instance, we invite authors to submit an abstract for consideration for this special issue. Please send a 500-word abstract with author name(s), affiliation, contact information and address, and name of the corresponding author, plus a list of references to the following guests' editors:  

Opening date for abstracts: 1st of October 2022
Closing date for abstract submission: 31st of December 2022  

Submission of full papers

Opening date for manuscripts submission: 1st of January 2023
Closing date for manuscripts submission: 30th June 2023  
Email for submission information:  
Dr Kim-Lim, TAN: [email protected] /Dr Ivy, HII:  [email protected]


In 2017, a significant milestone occurred when 140 chief executive officers from the World Economic Forum's International Business Council issued a joint notice on "Compact for Responsive and Responsible Leadership". The joint notice stated that society is best served by organizations that align their goals to the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (World Economic Forum, 2016). In the aftermath of this event, business leaders are beginning to act more responsibly, recognizing that profits and purpose are inextricably linked (Pless et al., 2021).  

Global Business Context

Since then, calls for globally responsible business leaders have been increasing, especially in the wake of recent global events, such as climate change, political instability, tensions between countries, economic slowdown and terrorist attacks. 

Globalization has created more interconnected communities than ever before, where the happenings in one country would have a "spill-over" effect on another. While preparing this call for this special issue, many countries face economic upheaval, civil unrest, poor sanitation, supply chain disruption that reduces accessibility to necessities, widespread discrimination and social isolation. These underscore the harsh reality that systemic bias, racism, inequality, and injustice continue to exist, further adding urgency to our subsequent arguments. 

In their positions of influence, business leaders need to exercise responsibility, more than just maximizing shareholders' wealth. They are equally accountable for the well-being of an extended community of employees, customers, partners, and others. All these collectively point toward the new global business context that requires a definition of a business that can encompass corporate aspirations, responsibilities and activities in realistic and contemporary terms that go beyond purely financially focused explanations.

This special issue coincides with the UN effort to designate the next ten years (2020-2030) as the "Decade of Action", where it stresses the need to accelerate sustainable solutions to the world's biggest challenges, ranging from poverty and gender to climate change, inequality and closing the finance gap (United Nations, 2019). 

 Globally Responsible Business Leadership

 To this end, what is needed is a new type of leadership based on a fundamental understanding of the interconnectedness of the world and recognition of the need for economic, societal and environmental advancement. We argue that tomorrow's leaders should have the vision to place decision-making and management practices in a global context. This leads us to the question: is there anything special about globally responsible business leadership, or are the traits, styles, and leadership skills all the same? 

We suggest the answer lies in the complexity of the different angles involving economic, environmental, and social perspectives that call for a coordinated and holistic approach. Globally responsible business leaders make decisions based on their fundamental understanding of the world's interconnectedness while recognizing the need for economic, social and environmental advancement (Oasis, 2022). It is also a belief that leaders contribute to creating economic and societal progress in a globally responsible and sustainable way. To this end, globally responsible business leaders operates under four key principles:

  • Thinking and acting in a global context. 
  • Broadening their corporate purpose to reflect accountability to societies around the globe. 
  • Putting ethics at the centre of their thoughts, words, and deeds. 
  • Addressing problems based on the commitment to delivering market and social value. 

In other words, a global business responsible leader is about establishing a mutually beneficial relationship between stakeholders (Ting et al., 2021). Such a relationship is an ongoing journey that requires adaptation, whether human-centric or nature-centric (Greige Frangieh and Khayr Yaacoub, 2017). It evolves each time a variable is introduced in the balanced interests of all stakeholders and is manifested as economic gains, responsibility towards the community, environmental well-being, and the equal distribution of resources (Zhang et al., 2022). In this regard, Maak and Pless (2006, p. 112) explained this is "a social-relational and ethical phenomenon that occurs in the interaction between a leader and a broader group of followers, inside and outside the organization."  

Focus of Special Issue

Still, in the infant stage of discussion, there are gaps in our understanding where we see an opportunity to revisit and rethink the concept.

First, the literature on globally responsible business leadership lacks a clear definition of the behaviours manifested in leaders (Flocy, 2017). Though studies such as Prinsloo et al. (2006) have indicated that characteristics like authenticity, virtuousness and charisma are required for leaders, there remains a gap in understanding globally responsible business leadership behaviour; especially it involves authority, accountability, and responsibility. For instance, organizations that outsource work to a third-party entity in another country may delegate some authority away, but does that mean absolving leaders in that organization of responsibility and accountability?

Second, research on the antecedents (individual, institutional, and societal) leading to globally responsible business leadership and its impact on multiple levels at various domains remain sparse and limited. Besides, few studies attempt to understand the "dark side" of being a globally responsible business leader. For instance, a globally responsible business leader does not necessarily result in positive development at the local level (Pless et al., 2021). In a situation of weak institutional contexts, they may intentionally reduce their bottom line to accommodate a lower standard of accountability and responsibility.

Finally, there is an under-representation of literature in Asia. Yet, Asia is the most rapid economic growth of any of the world's regions and now has a platform at the global level to deliver on its growing international responsibilities in the form of the G20 process. The diversity within Asia, culturally, linguistically, and economically, means that there is no one-size fits all solution, indicating a fascinating laboratory in which various approaches and models can be tested (Tan et al., 2022).

In sum, there is an imperative need to strengthen the conceptual and empirical understanding of globally responsible business leaders' actions, roles, and related issues within Asia. Without further examination, we will have limited knowledge of how Asia business leadership and society interact to address the global challenges of our time.

This special issue welcomes conceptual, theoretical, case studies and empirical submissions to explore the multiple perspectives of globally responsible business leadership in Asia. The followings are some suggested research directions that authors could focus on:

  • How do changes in the business landscape and shifting paradigms, such as the digital economy, green consumerism, increase advocacy on diversity and inclusivity, and higher expectations of social values, influence globally responsible business leadership? What are related conflicts and contradictions, and how does embracing them from a leadership point of view helps advancing societies globally?
  • What key antecedents (e.g., knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, motivations, mindsets and identities) would encourage business leaders to become globally responsible business leaders in Asia?
  • How do Asia organizations develop globally responsible business leaders? What is the role of human resources, and what organizational level support should be provided in this process? 
  • Who is needed, with what skills, to mould globally responsible business leaders in Asia?
  • How do the different facets of Asia society (political, economic, social expectations, technology, and legislation) affect the development of globally responsible business leaders? 
  • Do these act as facilitators or roadblocks that prevent globally responsible business leaders from interacting with society? 
  • What are the outcomes (psychological or tangible benefits) of globally responsible business leaders at the individual, institutional, and societal levels?
  • What is the dark side of globally responsible business leadership? What behaviour could be exhibited by globally responsible business leaders that result in negative organizational outcomes at the individual, institutional, and societal levels?
  • Are there any differences in globally responsible business leaders (in Asia) across the diverse types of organizations (e.g., government-linked companies, the public sector, the non-profit sector and the for-profit sector)? How do responsible business leaders manifest in these different types of organizations?
  • Are there any differences in the perspectives of globally responsible business leaders across Asia and the west?

Guest Editors

Dr Kim-Lim, TAN, James Cook University Singapore, [email protected]

Dr Ivy Siaw Hung, HII, Curtin University, Malaysia, [email protected] 

 A/P Dr Hiram, TING, UCSI University, Malaysia, [email protected]   

Dr Weng Hang, KONG, Macao Institute for Tourism Studies, China, [email protected]

Submissions Information

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available here

Author guidelines must be strictly followed. Please see here

Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to ““Please select the issue you are submitting to”. 

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.