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Leadership and Sustainability Outcomes: The Case of the Basque Capital City of Vitoria-Gasteiz in Northern Spain


Posted 04/04/2017
Submitted by Brian Skelly
Category: Campus Announcements

Join us at this week’s Philosophy Club meeting Thursday, April 6th from 12:15 to 1:45 in 421 Auerbach Hall as Barney School of Business professor Dr. Michael Patterson presents on the topic of Leadership and Sustainability.   

 In Dr. Patterson’s own words: The discussion will be centered around the extent to which leadership is important in the design and implementation of sustainable practices in organizations. It is fed by insights gained from a recent international conference on the topic in Spain.

House el al. (1999), beginning with the GLOBE studies, examine the extent to which culture influences social and organizational practices, and examine how cultural forces also significantly influence leadership. Metcalf and Benn (1999) examine leadership styles and characteristics at system (including culture) and individual levels and argue that a leader’s ability to address the complexity of system and organizational links is required for successful sustainability outcomes. Robèrt et al. (2004) address leadership toward sustainability as a multi-step, systems-level process that must be put in place to be able to negotiate the complex landscape of sustainability. 

Vitoria-Gasteiz in Northern Spain, where we spent six of our eight days and whose origins date back to the 11th century, is an award-winning model of sustainability. Over the course of several decades, this city – also the capital of the Spanish province of Araba - has positioned its sustainability trajectory such that it became the 2012 European Green Capital of Europe, a designation of the European Commission. (Its peers, by example, are Stockholm in 2010, Copenhagen in 2014, and Ljubljana, Slovenia in 2016.) The sustainable-city efforts were time-consuming and costly, and dedicated citizen and leadership efforts were required. While the Basque region of the country is autonomous, it operates within state and national laws and directives and must constantly negotiate the region’s priorities (Gourevitch, 1979).

References -
1. Gourevitch, P.A. (1979). The reemergence of “peripheral nationalisms”: some comparative speculations on the spatial distribution of political leadership and economic growth. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 21(03), pp.303-322.

2. House, R.J., Hanges, P.J., Ruiz-Quintanilla, S.A., Dorfman, P.W., Javidan, M., Dickson, M. and Gupta, V. (1999). Cultural influences on leadership and organizations: Project GLOBE. Advances in global leadership, 1(2), pp.171-233.

3. Metcalf, L. & Benn, S. (2013). Journal of Business Ethics 112(3), pp. 369-384.

4. Robèrt, K.H., Broman, G., Waldron, D., Ny, H., Byggeth, S., Cook, D., Johansson, L., Oldmark, J., Basile, G. and Haraldsson, H.V., 2004. Strategic leadership towards sustainability.

Dr. Patterson is an experienced educator and a leader in the management field combining his extensive work history within the public and private sectors. He has diverse teaching experience in community colleges, universities and corporations using traditional, hybrid and online teaching models.