Bristol Business School, University of West England, UK; College of Business, Law and Governance, James Cook University, Australia
- Peter Case, Bristol Business School, University of West England, UK. Email: Louisa S Evans, Geography, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, UK. Email:
Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Australia; WorldFish, Penang,
The first two authors contributed equally in leading development of the manuscript and are listed alphabetically.
Leadership is heralded as being critical to addressing the “crisis of governance” facing the Earth’s natural systems. While
political, economic, and corporate discourses of leadership have been widely and critically interrogated, narratives of environmental
leadership remain relatively neglected in the academic literature. The aims of this paper are twofold. First, to highlight
the centrality and importance of environmental science’s construction and mobilization of leadership discourse. Second, to
offer a critical analysis of environmental sciences’ deployment of leadership theory and constructs. The authors build on
a review of leadership research in environmental science that reveals how leadership is conceptualized and analyzed in this
field of study. It is argued that environmental leadership research reflects rather narrow framings of leadership. An analytical
typology proposed by Keith Grint is employed to demonstrate how any singular framing of environmental leadership as person, position, process, result, or purpose is problematic and needs to be supplanted by a pluralistic view. The paper concludes by highlighting key areas for improvement
in environmental leadership research, with emphasis on how a political ecology of environmental crisis narratives contributes
to a more critical body of research on leadership in environmental science.