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Understanding leadership in the environmental sciences

Evans, Louisa S.; Hicks, Christina C.; Cohen, Philippa J.; Case, Peter; Prideaux, Murray; Mills, David J.


Louisa S. Evans

Christina C. Hicks

Philippa J. Cohen

Murray Prideaux

David J. Mills


Leadership is often assumed, intuitively, to be an important driver of sustainable development. To understand how leadership is conceptualised and analysed in the environmental sciences and to discover what this research says about leadership outcomes, we conducted a review of environmental leadership research over the last ten years. We find that much of the environmental leadership literature we reviewed focuses on a few key individuals and desirable leadership competencies. It also reports that leadership is one of the most important of a number of factors contributing to effective management. Only a sub-set of the literature highlights interacting sources of leadership, disaggregates leadership outcomes or evaluates leadership processes in detail. We argue that the literature on environmental leadership is highly normative. Leadership is typically depicted as an unequivocal good and its importance is often asserted rather than tested. We trace how leadership studies in the management sciences are evolving and argue that, taking into account the state-of-the-art in environmental leadership research, there is still significant potential to progress more critical approaches to leadership research in environmental science.


Evans, L., Hicks, C., Cohen, P., Case, P., Prideaux, M., & Mills, D. (2015). Understanding leadership in the environmental sciences. Ecology and Society, 20(1), 50.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2015
Journal Ecology and Society
Print ISSN 1708-3087
Publisher Resilience Alliance
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Issue 1
Pages 50
Keywords conservation, entrepreneurship, environmental governance, fisheries, forestry, water
Public URL
Publisher URL


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