Dear Colleagues,
Please distribute this call for papers among IB scholars subscribed to the AIB-L mailing list. I hope this special issue of Cross Cultural & Strategic Management journal will provide a platform for sharing the work of scholars who conduct interview-based research on humanistic leadership in various cultures.
Kindest regards,
Humanistic Leadership in Different Cultures: Defining the Field by Pushing Boundaries
Special issue call for papers from Cross Cultural & Strategic Management
The submission portal for this SI will open October 1, 2019


Pingping Fu ([log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>), University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China;
Ernst von Kimakowitz, Humanistic Management Center and Humanistic Management Network;
Michal K. Lemanski, University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China;
Leigh Anne Liu, Georgia State University

Purpose of the Special Issue

The purpose of the Special Issue is to identify humanistic leadership characteristics and behaviors that have enabled leaders in different cultures to gain respect from local communities and substantially contributed to the local economic development. Essentially, our effort is to build a new leadership theory, using an indigenous lens that explicitly focuses on human well-being and that aims to lead a sustainable future by creating a common good.

Specifically, the Special Issue aims to:

  1.  Draw attention to inclusive human nature by highlighting the common features of humanistic leadership across cultures;
  2.  Stimulate interest in examining deep-rooted human values and their role in forging identities;
  3.  Establish humanistic leadership as a new theory based on empirical evidence from different cultures to guide future leadership studies;
  4.  Positively influence leadership practices in different cultures.

Definition of humanistic leadership

What kind of leaders are humanistic? What do they need to be or to do in order to effectively deal with the challenges the world is facing?  We have developed a working definition of humanistic leadership to facilitate identifying such leadership practices. Humanistic leaders are those who: 1) respect people as holistic human beings by taking care of himself/herself as well as the followers’ multiple needs and motives; 2) they constantly improve themselves while developing the followers to unleash their full potential; and 3) they recognize and try to take into account all stakeholders’ interests while striving to pursue the common good.

To link to the more established literature on humanistic management, we have consulted with Ernst von Kimakowitz, founder of the Humanistic Management Center and co-founder of the Humanistic Network, about the definition. He said the three dimensions of humanistic leadership connect very nicely with and mirror the three pillars of humanistic management: human dignity, ethical reflection and stakeholder engagement. “1) Respect for people as holistic human beings can only be brought to life when overcoming an instrumental view on people in economic activities and this, in turn, is central for respecting their dignity; 2) constant self-improvement is not possible without self-reflection and hence it corresponds very well with the integration of ethical reflection in management decisions; and 3) serving the common good as a leader is best attained by engaging with stakeholders in your Humanistic Leadership definition and that corresponds well to stakeholder engagement in the three stepped approach to Humanistic Management. In it, stakeholder engagement is described as the best way to ensure that management decisions respect the rights and interests of all those that are affected to build mutually beneficial relationships (i.e. serve the common good).”

In short, humanistic leadership differ from traditional leadership approaches in the following ways:

                     Traditional                 Humanistic
Focus            Profit                         People
Purpose        More functional       Holistic
Means           Prioritization             Optimization
Drive             Efficiency                  Effectiveness
Target           Shareholders            Stakeholders

Examples of such leaders

Although it is a new theory, in practice, such leadership can be found everywhere and has proven to lead to sustainability. For example, Jamsetji Tata, who found the Tata Group in India in 1868, now the country’s largest conglomerate with 700,000 employees and $110.7 billion of revenue to fulfill a mission “To improve the quality of life of the communities we serve globally, through long-term stakeholder value creation based on Leadership with Trust” left by the founder 150 years ago. In Japan, Kazuo Inamori, an entrepreneur who founded Kyocera and later KDDI, two Fortune 500 companies, was guided by his very basic set of ethics and morals based on the conscience that all humans innately possess, “Don’t be greedy,” “Don’t deceive others,” and “Don’t tell lies.” At the age of 70, Mr. Inamori’s hard-working attitude and genuine belief in human beings’ good nature miraculously got Japanese Airline out of deficit in one year and made it once again a successful company in the aviation industry in the world.

Criteria and reasons

The Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) research project proposed and empirically supported cultural implicit leadership theory (CLT), which argues that leadership effectiveness is determined by the extent to which leaders’ values are aligned with the company core values, which are consistent with the normative values of the society the business is operating in (House et al, 2014). Recently, a “new-genre” of leadership theories, including complexity leadership, servant leadership, spiritual leadership, cross-cultural leadership, and e-leadership, have been proposed and the emerging work on followership have also been examined comprehensively (Avolio et al. 2009; Dihn et al 2014; Winston & Ryan 2008). Nevertheless, despite these advances, the majority of the existing leadership research still focuses on employee productivity or organizational performance when examining outcomes, with much less attention paid to employees as a whole person, or as a person whose identity is closely related to her/his work. Humanistic leaders are conscientious of the multiple needs of human beings and trying hard to satisfy them; they are also constantly trying to cultivate themselves to lead by being a good role model; they focus on the big picture, trying to satisfy the interests of all stakeholders. Studying humanistic leadership practices can enrich leadership theory and offer practitioners role models. This is important because to address some of the pressing challenges the world faces today, the system needs to be reinvented as well as the leadership theories that were developed to motivate the workforce.

All submissions should meet the following criteria:

  1.  Be based on qualitative data collected through interviews of one or two well-respected leaders and their followers, demonstrating the effects of humanistic practices and the connections of such practices with the local cultural values;
  2.  Advance/refine existing leadership theories, i.e. make a significant theoretical contribution;
  3.  Make connections between those leadership phenomena and local cultural values; i.e. a cultural perspective to fit the mission of CCSM; this can include one country studies with clear indigenous theorizing and some discussion of generalizability.

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times,” the famous quote from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens used to describe the French Revolution can also be used to describe the current times we live in. We hope the papers in this Special Issue will help prolong the best of times while stopping the worst times, and that humanistic leadership practices can help businesses move toward a sustainable future that will lead to the best of times.


Avolio, B. J., Walumbwa, F. O., & Weber, T. J. (2009). Leadership: current theories, research, and future directions. Annual Review of Psychology, 60: 421-449.

Dinh, J. E., Lord, R. G., Gardner, W, L., Meuser, J. D., Liden, R.C., and Hu, J. (2014). Leadership theory and research in the new millennium: Current theoretical trends and changing perspectives. Leadership Quarterly, 25: 36-62.

House, R., Dorfman, P., Javidan, M., Javidan, M, Hanges, P., Sully de Luque, M. (2014). Strategic Leadership across Cultures. SAGE Publications.

Winston, B., & Ryan, B. (2008) Servant Leadership as a Humane Orientation: Using the GLOBE Study Construct of Humane Orientation to Show that Servant Leadership is More Global than Western. International Journal of Leadership Studies, 3(2): 212-222.

Submission Instructions

All manuscripts will undergo a double-blind peer review process. Submissions should be between 7,000-10,000 words, including references, figures and tables, and follow the manuscript requirement outlined on the journal’s website:<>.

Submissions to Cross Cultural & Strategic Management are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts, the online submission and peer review system. Registration and access are available at:

Submission deadline: Dec. 31, 2019

Tentative publishing:  December 2020

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