Responsible Leadership in Times of Transformation

René Schmidpeter

The world is rapidly changing. Digital transformation, sustainable management and industry 4.0 are already the reality. This not only affects our workplaces and businesses, but also academia and education. Instead of linear conventional thinking, managers need innovative skills, such as cooperation and social competences. The whole world has access to the internet’s unlimited knowledge base and an increasing number of people have the ability and means to access it every day. In order to properly utilize this continuously growing and changing knowledge base, leaders have to develop new skills and enhance personal abilities. New skills can only be developed in an open and free setting without the limitations of ideologies and old mindsets.

Organizations, as well as their leaders and employees benefit from these recent developments. On the one hand, people become part of global information and knowledge network caused by digitalization, on the other hand personal excellence and creativity becomes more valuable in the value creation process. Intuitive knowledge, personal values, as well as a clear orientation towards the future are gaining importance and seen as necessary mindsets to foster innovation and drive sustainable development.

Currently Academia is going through a transformation itself. We need to develop new content (e.g. sustainable management), new methods (innovation and creativity, unique experiences, free thinking), and governance structures (open networks, co-creation and dynamic learning organizations). The question remains: How can we achieve all this? How can we develop innovative leadership approaches and new education systems at the same time? How can we re-organize academia and management, so that we can create value from the under-utilized ecological, social and entrepreneurial potential, which lies within all of us and our organizations? What does a co-creation process of knowledge and responsible leadership look like? How can we have a positive impact on current transformation processes?

Management and Academia will change fundamentally within the next decade. It is not going to be enough to only provide the same opportunities for the next generations. Instead, we need to INCREASE opportunities for current and future generations NOW. This new vision for business and universities will empower even more people, especially managers, to change out-dated structures and organizations, and pioneer responsible leadership that will create more opportunities for all of us. If one examines the changes from this perspective, the current transformation is the biggest opportunity of our lifetime! Academic conferences like the PRME and the Humboldt conference represent a tremendous opportunity to build new collaborations across disciplines, between business and academia, as well as between different cultures and continents, so that we can achieve these new goals together. Times of transformation are always different from previous times, that’s why every person and their unique competencies and skills count! That’s why I hope to see you all in Cologne from 12th till 16th in November 2018.


About the Author

Prof. Dr. René Schmidpeter holds the Dr. Juergen Meyer Endowed Chair of International Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility at Cologne Business School (CBS), Germany. He is also a professor at the Nanjing University of Finance and Economics and Adjunct Professor at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia. He is a series editor for Springer’s CSR, Sustainability, Ethics and Governance books, a section editor of the Encyclopedia of Corporate Social Responsibility (ECSR) and an editor of the Dictionary of Corporate Social Responsibility (DCSR) as well as Editor-in Chief of the International Journal of CSR (Springer).

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