The Wicked Problems of Global Sustainability Need Wicked (Good) Leaders and Wicked (Good) Collaborative Solutions

Sandra Waddock
January 1, 2013
Africa, Asia - Pacific, Europe, Latin & South America, North America
Ethics & Social Justice
22 pages
sustainability, societal sustainability, global sustainability, natural resources
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Making a difference in the pursuit of a more sustainable world increasingly requires the ability to contend successfully with the wicked problem that is sustainability, and this shift needs to happen at the societal as well as the organizational level. Dealing successfully with issues of sustainability means creating greater system resilience and using resources more wisely, which means working successfully across boundaries, be they sector, organizational, policy, or functional ones. Wicked problems are poorly formulated, confusing, and have many different constituents or stakeholders with conflicting values. This article argues that developing wicked (good) leadership that is collaboratively oriented and wicked (good) solutions that enhance system resilience are two potential strategies for creating change to reduce systemic problems associated with sustainability. Although these approaches do not deal with the problem of resource overuse, they may providea basis for generating more sustainable approaches to resource use.