Advanced Leadership Note: An Institutional Perspective and Framework for Managing and Leading

Posted: 1 Feb 2012

Date Written: August 4, 2010


Large-scale societal issues increasingly appear on the agenda of business leaders, including poverty, health, education, business-government relations, and the degradation of the environment. These problems are not entirely new, but the forces of globalization and the economic crisis have made them more visible and increase their urgency. They share several characteristics that signal the need for new kinds of societal leadership and academic scholarship. From the perspective of leadership, one common characteristic of these global problems is that they include both technical and political components. The political context surrounding any problem must be understood and managed, and a variety of institutions across sectors must be mobilized before technical solutions can be applied. Along similar lines, technical knowledge of solutions alone is not enough to scale successful demonstration projects that address these complex problems. That step involves resources and skills centered on forging appropriate systemic connections to effectively distribute solutions. Thus, these challenges cannot be dealt with by one profession or institution acting alone; indeed, effective action most often occurs at the intersections of professional and institutional fields. Holistic solutions, however, can be difficult to implement because of the complex interactions (or failures to interact) among many participants who deal with just one piece of an issue. Finally, solutions to these problems require concurrent actions at several system levels and/or among many stakeholders. This means that social capital as well as financial capital is required to forge relationships, influence opinion leaders and gatekeepers, and ensure cultural appropriateness.

Learning Objective: Introduces framework for large scale institutional leadership & change.

Suggested Citation

Moss Kanter, Rosabeth and Khurana, Rakesh, Advanced Leadership Note: An Institutional Perspective and Framework for Managing and Leading (August 4, 2010). Harvard Business School Organizational Behavior Unit Case No. 410-076, Available at SSRN:

Rosabeth Moss Kanter (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6053 (Phone)

Rakesh Khurana

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-4137 (Phone)
617-496-6554 (Fax)

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