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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.

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Louisa S. Evans

Christina C. Hicks

Philippa J. Cohen

Murray Prideaux

David J. Mills


© 2015 by the author(s). Leadership is often assumed, intuitively, to be an important driver of sustainable development. To understand how leadership is conceptualized and analyzed 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 10 years. We found that much of the environmental leadership literature focuses on a few key individuals and desirable leadership competencies. The literature also reports that leadership is one of the most important of a number of factors contributing to effective environmental governance. Only a subset 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, more critical approaches to leadership research in environmental science can be developed.


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

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jun 6, 2019
Journal Ecology and Society
Print ISSN 1708-3087
Electronic 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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