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A falling of the veils: turning points and momentous turning points in leadership and the creation of CSR

Hemingway, Christine A.; Starkey, Kenneth


Christine A. Hemingway

Professor of Management and Organisational Learning


This article uses the life stories approach to leadership and leadership development. Using exploratory, qualitative data from a Forbes Global 2000 and FTSE 100 company, we discuss the role of the turning point (TP) as an important antecedent of leadership in corporate social responsibility. We argue that TPs are causally efficacious, linking them to the development of life narratives concerned with an evolving sense of personal identity. Using both a multi-disciplinary perspective and a multi-level focus on CSR leadership, we identify four narrative cases. We propose that they helped to re-define individuals’ sense of self and in some extreme cases completely transformed their self-identity as leaders of CSR. Hence we also distinguish the momentous turning point (MTP) that created a seismic shift in personality, through re-evaluation of the individuals’ personal values. We argue that whilst TPs are developmental experiences that can produce responsible leadership, the MTP changes the individuals’ personal priorities in life to produce responsible leadership that perhaps did not exist previously. Thus we appropriate Maslow’s (1976, p. 77) metaphorical phrase ‘A falling of the veils’ from his discussion of peak and desolation experiences that produce personal growth. Using a multi-disciplinary literature from social theory (Archer, 2012) moral psychology (Narvaez, 2009) and social psychology (Schwartz, 2010), we present a theoretical model that illustrates the psychological process of the (M)TP, thus contributing to the growing literature on the microfoundations of CSR.


Hemingway, C. A., & Starkey, K. (2018). A falling of the veils: turning points and momentous turning points in leadership and the creation of CSR. Journal of Business Ethics, 151(4), 875-890.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 24, 2017
Online Publication Date Aug 24, 2017
Publication Date 2018-09
Deposit Date Aug 2, 2017
Publicly Available Date Aug 24, 2017
Journal Journal of Business Ethics
Print ISSN 0167-4544
Electronic ISSN 1573-0697
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 151
Issue 4
Pages 875-890
Keywords CSR, Ethnography, Leadership, Life narrative, Moral psychology, Prosocial behaviourQualitative Research, Serendipity, Sustainability, Turning Points
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