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Proceedings of the International Association for Business and Society

Volume 23, 2012

Proceedings of the Twenty-Third Annual Meeting

Judith A. White, Don McCormick
Pages 14-25

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.

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