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Cristina Gimenez, Esperanza Meri, Cristina Sancha & Vicenta Sierra

Does service learning contribute to develop responsible leadership?

TO BE CONSIDERED FOR FULL PAPER Business schools, as institutions shaping the next generation of professionals and business leaders, hold substantial influence over the progress of sustainable development. However, while over 800 schools have committed to the United Nations Principles of Responsible Management Education, questions persist regarding to which extent these principles have been integrated across the different business disciplines (Montiel, Antolin-Lopez, & Gallo, 2018). Several authors have studied the role of business schools in the development of responsible leadership (i.e. Waddock y Lozano, 2013; Pless 2012; 2017); however, empirical evidence on the impact that different pedagogical actions have on the development of responsible leadership skills and competencies in students is scarce. The present paper, framed in a mixed methodology research project, contributes to this last point by evaluating how certain pedagogical actions allow the development of these characteristics in the context of a business school. More specifically, the aim of this research is to assess how the Service Learning (SL) methodology enables the development of the skills and competencies required for responsible leadership. SL is a transformative educational experience aligned with the Ignatian pedagogical paradigm that comprises three steps: Experience, Reflection, and Action (International Commission on Apostolate of Jesuit Education, Society of Jesus, 1993). SL is based on collaborative work in and with a community with the aim of contributing to the common good through the resolution of social and/or environmental challenges. SL facilitates achieving the goal of educating people to be competent and socially responsible professionals. Experiential learning allows them to put knowledge and skills into practice by developing their competence more deeply. However, what distinguishes SL from other experiential methodologies is the transformative intentionality based on accompanied reflection. The experience of approaching a more disadvantaged social reality and the subsequent reflection contribute to forming people who are aware of the main challenges of our society and compassionate people with a firm commitment to solidarity and justice (McVerry, 2014). In order to assess whether SL contributes to the development of responsible leadership skills and competences, a mix longitudinal research will be carried out, allowing the triangulation of quantitative and qualitative data. The study begins with qualitative methodology. In this sense, in-depth interviews are being carried out with students, before and after having participated in the SL course, in order to gain access to the social meanings (the processes of change and continuity) offered by the participants in first person. In the 29th Annual IAJBS World Forum and 2024 CJBE Annual Meeting we will present preliminary results of the qualitative study. Keywords: Service Learning; Responsible Leadership; transformational pedagogy.