Current activities under The Leadership in the Digital Age Project include research, publishing, and applied work with public, private, and NGO groups. Research under Digital Leadership Project involves the application of the Quad leadership model to several different research sites around the world. In order to understand better the interactions of leaders across different sectors of society, the project explores Quad social relations among government, private, non-profit and research leaders at the national, regional, and city levels. The national level analysis of digital leadership is being conducted with Prof. Derrick Cogburn at the University of Michigan, with South Africa as the national case. The regional case of digital leadership, with Prof. John Anderson of the Catholic University of America, is the greater Washington D.C. metropolitan area, including Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland. The "IT City" of Bangalore, India is the third case study of digital leadership, and is being done in cooperation with Rana Sarkar. Field work has begun with interviews in all three sites, and will continue in 2005. The results will be used to refine and extend the "Quad" model, and to illuminate leadership dynamics in these and other communities and countries.
In addition, we are working with public agencies like the World Bank's Gateway Development Foundation to create a new platform on Leadership in the Digital Age to collect and analyze new examples and best practices. We conducted a survey of global business leaders with the Global Information Infrastructure Commision. With partners in the private sector, universities and international organizations we are developing an Academy of E-Leadership to research the topic and train Knowledge Managers globally.
The purpose of the Project on Leadership in the Digital Age funded by the Markle Foundation, was to assemble groups of experienced, thoughtful practitioners and scholars from the United States and other countries to define more carefully the meaning and parameters of ‘digital leadership’, and to propose ‘best practices’ in this emerging field to help improve scholarship and performance. Our guiding assumption was that leadership is an under-appreciated element of the successful diffusion – and sustainability – of ICT programs and projects, and is critically important to longer term capacities to make the transition to a knowledge society. Specifically, the goals of the 4 past seminar series were to:
Four international colloquia were held in Washington, London, Budapest, and Bangalore to pursue these goals.
The colloquium’s deliberations were guided by several core questions:
To organize and concentrate the discussion we provided an initial analytical framework that integrated several distinct elements of leadership. This multi-sectoral approach draws on five years of empirical research in Africa, Asia, South America, Europe and the U.S., as well as scholarly writing on innovation and science and technology. The ‘Quad’ approach builds on the observation that rapid, sustained and innovative ICT diffusion from Silicon Valley to Bangalore and Beijing rests on a multi-sectoral style of cooperative leadership that incorporates government officials, private sector managers, researchers and NGO leaders who act as “information champions’ to forge social trust, specialized networks and political constituencies that support long-term technological and social innovation. These cross-sector relationships evolve over time to become more inclusive, transparent and reciprocal, as ‘information champions’ conclude that their own success requires the sustained cooperation of other early innovators and leaders in widely-different fields. Through cross-sectoral leadership experts in one field learn both the substance of other fields, and also learn to speak the language and learn the professional priorities and intellectual approaches of their counterparts across the Quad. Digital leaders are characterized by new kinds and combinations of attitudes, skills, knowledge and experiences.
Where information champions learn to cooperate across sectors and institutions, the information revolution is robust. Where the information champions are few or uncooperative, the information revolution is stunted. In brief, there can be no information revolution without information revolutionaries across multiple sectors.
An important element of the project was the International Colloquium held July 14-15, 2003, in Washington, DC, where these and other issues were discussed.
The thirty participants invited to this Colloquium were selected for their knowledge and experience across the four sectors of the Quad – public, private, research and NGOs. They included scholars and practitioners from the U.S. and abroad, including India, Italy, South Africa, and the UK.
By addressing the purposes and questions identified above in the context of cross-sectoral Quad leadership, the Colloquia produced: specific concrete suggestions to enhance leadership in the ICT sectors through training, continuing education and specialized programs; generated an accessible, clearly written and practical ‘Tool Kit’ for practitioners; helped shape a research agenda for scholars; and laid the foundation for additional conversations among those interested in leadership across the four sectors.