Leadership from Below: Promoting Evolution of Sustainability Norms Through Technology-Assisted Broadly Participatory Process

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Addressing potential global as well as regional or local ‘leadership challenges that matter’, this paper outlines the background and prospects for a potential research agenda for ‘leadership from below’ in the evolution of norms of sustainable conduct and their implementation. The paper understands ‘leadership from below’ as the inclusion of individuals or groups who may not have or only with difficulty have access to actively join in conventional processes of evolving norms of conduct on sustainability concerns or drafting implementation strategies, but who possess as valid and relevant insights, concerns and experience as those with easier access to such processes. In particular, the paper is interested in ways to include population groups living outside of large cities and decision centres in shaping the future course of sustainable development. Drawing on the evolution of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (2011) and the advanced African experience in using mobile phones to provide rural population with access to economic transactions as the empirical basis, the paper describes research potential for inclusive and 7 participatory processes that apply information technology assisted inclusion of views, needs and concerns of individuals in processes related norms of conduct with regard to sustainability, such as the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a local or regional context. The proposed interdisciplinary research agenda considers how the African experience in mobile phone payment schemes and business communication may be applied and expanded for the purposes of two-way communication for the evolution and implementation of sustainability norms that include the expertise and views of the often non-included. Calling for connecting the normative and policy-making social sciences with information-technical communication insights, the paper outlines research perspectives for applying the African mobile phone experience as a unique example of how individuals living far from conventional centres of political and economic power may be included in mainstream communicative processes through electronic communication platforms enabling ‘leadership from below’ through including local people’s sustainability related insights and views and the experience of African mobile phone firms.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConference Proceedings : The 4th International Conference on Responsible Leadership Challenges that Matter 15 & 16 March 2017
Number of pages1
Place of PublicationPretoria
PublisherGordon Institute of Business Science
Publication date2017
ISBN (Print)9781775921394
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventThe 4th International Conference on Responsible Leadership 2017: Leadership Challenges that Matter - University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Duration: 15 Mar 201716 Mar 2017
Conference number: 4


ConferenceThe 4th International Conference on Responsible Leadership 2017
LocationUniversity of Pretoria
Country/TerritorySouth Africa
Internet address

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