How does responsible leadership emerge? An emergentist perspective

Elina Meliou*, Mustafa Ozbilgin, Tim Edwards

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increasing academic and practitioner conversations regarding corporate responsibility, have led some leadership scholars to question the possibilities to accomplish responsible leadership. Drawing on an emergentist perspective, through an empirical study in three organizations, the article develops the responsible leadership literature by offering a critical analysis of the emergence of responsible leadership. Our key finding is that responsible leadership emerges as participants’ ‘shared concerns’, namely: ‘environmental and communal concerns’, ‘professional concerns’, ‘employment concerns’, and ‘commercial concerns’, which constitute social arrangements that give meaning to what is responsible and possible. The theoretical perspective we develop highlights the conditioning role of shared and nested concerns of the study participants and unpack how the social context variously shapes responsible leadership.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-534
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Management Review
Issue number4
Early online date24 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Meliou, E., Ozbilgin, M. &
Edwards, T. (2021) How does responsible leadership emerge? An emergentist perspective. European Management Review, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

Funding: British Academy of Management. Grant Number: BAMRDGS2013_31151_45541


  • Emergence
  • relationality
  • responsibility
  • responsible leadership
  • shared concerns
  • social context


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