Lancaster University - Transforming Tomorrow

Transforming Tomorrow 14 Drawing on the wisdom of indigenous understandings of the relationship between humans and nature, we can explore notions of ‘stewardship’ in different contexts to evaluate its potential to replace the debased currency of leadership across a range of stakeholders. Our research posits a return to the relational ontologies of indigenous cultures, with their profound connections between humans and nature and the consequent obligation of stewardship – in contrast to Enlightenment beliefs in the domination of nature for our own purposes – as fundamental to addressing the current ecological crises. We are at an early stage, but our research will consist of two elements: an integrative literature review across six research domains, from arts and humanities to the physical and social sciences, exploring the core of human understandings of stewardship and how these are utilised in sustainability-related activity; and collecting data from family businesses and FTSE100 companies, across a range of industrial sectors, to understand the inter-relatedness between preserving family assets, pursuing CSR policies, and tackling broader sustainable development goals as different aspects of stewardship. Collectively, the findings will inform workshops, seminars, and online resources. If you’d like to find out more, contact Dr Marian Iszatt-White, Three perspectives on stewardship Good Dividends seeks to answer the question of ‘leadership for what?’ through an inter-disciplinary perspective based on the dual notion of capitals and responsible leadership. Responsible leadership moves the axis of leadership from leader-followers to leader-stakeholders and a focus on the purposes, responsibilities and activities of leading to realise value for connected stakeholders. Good Dividends provides an alternative theory and model from dominant neo-liberal approaches to capitalism. It is an approach for leaders to focus on enhancing five capitals of their business aligned with a sixth – our planet and communities – to pursue their fiduciary duty to shareholders through realising value for all stakeholders. In short, this is a case for leadership to focus on a systemically connected portfolio of Good Dividends. ‘Good’ and ‘dividends’ are significant words. Good captures a range of dimensions: increasing for stakeholders; sustainable because of how the dividends emerge; and ethically-based – the greatest good for the greatest number. Dividends captures the notion of both a return on investment, and also the sense of a ‘yield’, ‘enabling’ the growth of related capitals. We have used these ideas in undergraduate and postgraduate modules, the Executive and full-time MBA and in our engagement programmes. Find out more about the Good Dividends project at or contact, Professor Steve Kempster Corporate Biosphere Stewardship The idea of corporate biosphere stewardship emerges from a series of assumptions. Firstly, that humans are part of the biosphere and not separate from it. This belief leads to the conclusion that human and biosphere health are inseparable. Indeed, the ‘One Health Agenda’ opens this up further by linking human, animal and planetary health together. The second assumption is that corporations (driven as they are by people) can be a force for good in terms of taking a long-term view on their actions and impacts, as well as seeking to be responsible beyond the narrow demands of the law. This leads to the idea that corporations can become biosphere stewards, in partnership with significant others. Other actors who can support stewardship include regulators who set the boundaries of responsible behaviour (and enforce them), customers who reward responsible producers, and civil society that both holds corporations to account as well as encourages and supports change processes. In addition, there is a powerful role of company owners to support stewardship transitions alongside the need for funders (such as banks) to channel finance in appropriate ways. Taken together, these dynamics might support the pursuit of sustainability in business. To find out more, contact Professor Jan Bebbington, The new leadership? Good Dividends