Leading for social change: Waste management in the place of social (ir)responsibility

Esposito, Paolo; Ricci, Paolo and Sancino, Alessandro (2020). Leading for social change: Waste management in the place of social (ir)responsibility. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 28(2) pp. 667–674.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/csr.2078


What leadership practices can be enacted in contexts of public values failure and with low social capital to enact positive social change? This article studies public management and leadership dynamics in the “Land of Fires” (Italy), a place where waste management has historically been affected by mafia infiltration. Our research is based on a multi‐site single case study strategy with qualitative data obtained from semi‐structured interviews with several key stakeholders, including public and business managers, civil society leaders, local journalists, local politicians, regional and national politicians, and citizens in their role as co‐producers of public services. From a theoretical point of view, our findings contribute to the literature on both place leadership and collaborative governance. From a practical point of view, we shed light on the importance of four interrelated leadership practices to be enacted by public managers and civic leaders to promote positive social change: (a) to recognize and call into existence different publics; (b) to mobilize political leadership; (c) to obtain media salience; and (d) to develop institutional opportunities for enabling agonistic civic capacity.

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