Volume 23, 2012
Proceedings of the Twenty-Third Annual Meeting
Judith A. White, Don McCormick
Leadership for an Emerging Democracy in Burma
A Model of Moral Courage
This qualitative study examines the moral courage of leaders working for democracy and human rights in Burma. As Burma transitions to democracy moral
courage will be essential for leaders of civil society organizations as they face corruption, cronyism, and resistance to change. From interview data with nineteen leaders in Burma and Thailand, and a review of the literature we developed a conceptual model of moral courage that suggests that the relationship between moral motivation and the demonstration of moral courage was mediated by political, social, and individual level factors including the activists’ knowledge and experiences. In addition to applications for leadership in civil society organizations in emerging democracies, results suggest individuals in private, public, or non-governmental organizations, when confronted with coercion, corruption, exploitation, or denial of due process can act with moral courage by engaging their moral principles, commitment, compassion, and sense of urgency while recognizing risks and potential hardship.