Leadership for Sustainability: An Action Research Approach

Peter Truesdale


Posted in: Reviews

Leadership for Sustainability: An Action Research Approach

September 09, 2011
Leadership for Sustainability: An Action Research Approach
Edited by Judi Marshall, Gill Coleman and Peter Reason

Major religious change has been achieved through simple language. Complex and arcane vocabulary has been the mark of narrow sects that quickly fade.

Major political change is accomplished by slogans that speak directly to the concerns of the people. Complex political language is the preserve of far-out think-tanks and fruitcake extremists.

Major socio-economic change has often been triggered by cataclysmic events.

Herein lies the problem with this book.

It falls short of the first two criteria and is not sufficiently prophetic about the third.

The language, particularly of the introductory section penned by the editors, is strangulated. To pick a few phases at random: potential emerging paradigms, cross-woven threads, participative sense making, opening communicative space, triple-loop learning, objectivist modernism, post-conventional action-logics. This is failed and broken language. It has the capacity to provide the comforting, shared code of a sect. It does not carry any meaning or force outside that narrow circle.

This is a pity because the underlying proposition of the book may indeed be true. The proposition is that the eco-system cannot support our economic model’s demand for endless growth. The authors think the model must be junked and replaced with a different one. May be.

It’s hard being prophetic.

Prophets have a big message to deliver to society. They also frequently have a personal story to share. Too much of this collection of essays is personal story, too little is big message.

To be effective leaders need followers. Converts are the order of the day. One imagines that few will see the light by reading this volume.