Leadership in the Informal Economy: Addressing Challenges from the Field

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Sheraton Boston Hotel

39 Dalton Street

Boston, MA 02199

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Thanks for registering. You will be receiving additional information over the next few weeks about upcoming webinars and other pre-conference activities so as to make the most of the time we have in Boston.


Network of Leadership Scholars’
2nd Annual Research/Practice Conference

Sheraton Boston Hotel (Liberty Ballroom A), Boston, MA
August 1-2, 2012

Conference Theme for 2012

The theme for this year’s conference is Leadership in the Informal Economy. Consistent with this theme, we focus on informal leadership at the lower rungs of the socio-economic strata. We explore how leadership that emerges from within the base of the economic pyramid (BoP) is associated with successful (or unsuccessful) outcomes of poverty alleviation programs (e.g., microcredit, microenterprise formation, health awareness, education and training, and sanitation).

Drawing from stories and information provided by practitioners and research findings from scholars, participants will be challenged to work together to develop frameworks for informal (emergent) leadership in the context of poverty alleviation initiatives. Our goal is to generate a set of knowledge products that will help practitioners and scholars in researching and designing meaningful interventions to improve the success rate of such initiatives. In the process, we will also inform understanding of informal (emergent) leadership.

Planned Outcomes

The conference outcome is identification of a set of knowledge products that, if produced, would help significantly advance understanding of leadership emerging in the lowest rungs of the socio-economic strata in localized efforts to alleviate conditions of impoverished groups. The outcomes of our learning will be published in an edited volume on Informal Leadership in the Informal Economy (edited by Nagaraj Sivasubramaniam, Kzrysztof Dembek, and Mary Uhl-Bien). The outcomes will also be informative to informal leadership processes more broadly (e.g., in the formal economy). Issues of informal leadership have been largely ignored in leadership research. Our work here aims to rectify this problem by advancing a research and practice agenda on informal leadership of importance paralleling that given to formal leadership in the previous century.


What’s particularly unique (and exciting!) about the conference is the format. There are no paper presentations— this is not an “Academy before the Academy.” Instead participants (scholars and practitioners) will engage in the design thinking process around the challenge: How might we develop frameworks for thinking about informal (emergent) leadership in the context of poverty alleviation initiatives? The design thinking process has been developed specific to the needs of our conference, and will be led by a professional facilitator, Drew Marshall, who has volunteered his services for this effort.

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