Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Management, Operations and Marketing


Corporate transgressions continue to significantly impact the individual, organisational and societal outcomes in a variety of ways. The Enron scandal, the Union Carbide disaster, the 2007-2008 global financial crisis, the Volkswagen and other major corporate scandals across industries have had significant adverse impact on both internal and external stakeholders as well as the environment. However despite current measures to halt the rise in such corporate indiscretions and irresponsible executive action through legal and other procedural mechanisms, the number of corporate scandals being reported across the globe continues to grow. There have been growing calls for businesses to lead responsibly in order for leaders to regain society’s trust and the license to operate. However, scholarly contributions on responsible leadership are currently mainly theoretical with few empirical studies that focus on the factors that influence responsible leadership especially from a non-Western context.

The purpose of this study was to extend the mostly prescriptive responsible leadership research to examine the factors that influence responsible leadership and how context impacts the dimensions of responsible leadership. By studying responsible leadership from a Singaporean context, this study aimed to develop a Context Specific Responsible Leadership Model (CSRLM). A mixed methodology approach comprising three phases was applied to developing the scale to measure responsible leadership. In Phase One, in-depth interviews with twenty influential business leaders (CEOs, Presidents, Vice Presidents and Directors) in Singapore were developed into case studies. The interview data were analysed using Grounded Theory. In Phase Two, a Delphi study comprising six experts from the field was conducted over two iterations. The questionnaire for the first iteration was developed from the findings of the case studies. The experts’ responses in the first iteration were analysed and collated to develop the questionnaire for the second iteration of the Delphi study. In Phase Three, the results of the case studies and Delphi study were compared, contrasted and synthesised with current literature to develop the Context Specific Responsible Leadership Model (CSRLM). CSRLM was created by customising existing valuescentred leadership scales that have been validated in prior research. To capture a more complete understanding of the responsible leadership behaviour in Singapore, the scale was administered to second-tier leaders such as Managers, Heads of Department and Executives operating in Singapore. Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modelling (PLS-SEM) was used to analyse the data.

The findings of the study indicate that from a Singaporean perspective, responsible leadership is a multi-dimensional and hierarchical concept and that the primary dimensions of responsible leadership are people-orientation, ethical traits, ethical accountability and context. The evidence also suggests that apart from being a primary dimension of responsible leadership, context significantly influences the other three dimensions of responsible leadership thus supporting the extant responsible leadership literature. The findings also illustrate that from a Singaporean perspective, responsible leadership and effective leadership are perceived as being interconnected and complementary, and that leaders appear to apply relational intelligence when faced with complex decision-making.

FoR codes (2008)

1503 BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT, 220102 Business Ethics



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.