How can we measure leadership? What makes a leader succeed or fail? Dr Mark Bennister at Canterbury Christ Church University has been gathering scholars together to investigate the idea of ‘leadership capital’ and offer a way to understand why some leaders ‘spend’ their ‘capital’ successfully and others squander or waste it. Dr Bennister is co-convenor of the PSA Political Leadership Specialist Group and is leading a section on political leadership at the 2015 ECPR general Conference in Montreal in August.
2014 was the year of ‘Capital’ thanks to Thomas Piketty. Piketty’s weighty tome breathed new life into economic analysis of economic inequality. Capital, for Piketty is a stock – its wealth comes from what has been accumulated in all prior years combined. So what happens if we take a concept of accumulated capital and apply it to political leadership? This presents us with alternative method of understanding why political leaders succeed or fail, how they remain in office, and how they win elections.
Greater Manchester will become the next urban area in the UK to directly elect a mayor, following Bristol who first elected a mayor in 2012. One of the frustrations in the debate around directly elected mayors, however, is the lack of empirical evidence around which to evaluate their impact. Here, David Sweeting presents some early analysis of data from both before and after the introduction of the mayoral system in Bristol.
Recently George Osborne announced the creation of a ‘metro-mayor’ for Greater Manchester. In doing so he has joined a long line of heavyweight politicians who have endorsed the idea of directly elected mayors as at least part of the solution to issues in urban governance in English cities. From as far back as Michael Heseltine in the early 1990s, via Tony Blair, and through David Cameron the idea of a single figure to govern our Continue reading What impact do mayors have on the cities that elect them?→
by Tessa Coombes, guest blogger for P&P conference
In the afternoon plenary session on the first day of the Policy & Politics conference, Prof. Dr. Erik-Hans Klijn, Erasmus University Rotterdam, explored the tension between front stage (world of media and politics) and back stage (world of complex networks) using his own work to take us through the tensions that exist and how public managers can cope with those tensions. He reminded us that – modern governance is more about managing processes than anything else and there are no easy answers to complex governance problems.
Governance networks (back stage) were described as being characterised by complexity; complexity of decision-making and of resource dependency, with many different actors involved in activity where it takes time and dedication to achieve good performance. In this sense, it is managerial effort that makes the difference with modern governance more about management than politics and where hard work is needed because there are no easy solutions. Whilst this may well be true, I think there are many politicians out there who may just disagree with the comment about management!
In the world of politics and media (front stage), complexity comes from interaction and activity, with politicians reacting daily to events and constant media attention which is both short term and immediate. It’s a different world dominated by media logic, where branding and image are increasingly ‘centre-stage’ and used more frequently because people can relate to them.
These different worlds, operating together, generate a number of tensions:
complex multi-faced problems and solutions versus simple communications
connective leadership versus personalised strong profile
long-term oriented dedication versus short-term visibility
trust building versus conflict framing
Public managers therefore face huge challenges to combine ‘front’ and ‘back’ stage, where there is more focus on emotions, more use of branding and more network management. Erik-Hans concluded by emphasising that these tensions will remain and potentially increase, because the tendencies that fuel them will remain in place.
One of the interesting points I’ll take away from the discussion is definitely the one about branding, and how important this become in our society, but with a reminder that perhaps this should relate not just to ‘selling’ but also to identity, value processes and commitment.
Tessa Coombes has recently completed the MSc in Public Policy at Bristol University, is a former Bristol City Councillor and regularly blogs about policy, politics, and place.
by David Sweeting, Associate Editor of Policy & Politics
In a development that I couldn’t have scripted better had I been able to draft the legislation and push it through the Houses of Parliament myself, Bristol adopted a directly elected mayor in 2012. I have a long-held interest in directly elected mayors in the UK, and urban political leadership more generally. Since I arrived in Bristol in 1998 to work on an ESRC project on urban political leadership, the topic of leadership in Bristol has been a recurring one. Bristol’s abrasive politics has meant that many council leaders’ terms in office were short-lived, despite their abilities as leaders. Continue reading David Sweeting asks: What difference do directly elected mayors make?→
by Noemi Lendvai, Associate Editor of Policy & Politics
If conferences are there to capture and signpost contemporary public policy issues, then for me this year’s P&P conference signals at least three main trends.
Firstly, complexity, fragmentation, collaboration and multi-sector and multi-agency governance are key concerns. Can we consider partnerships, co-production and networks as an antidote to the ‘ungovernability’ of complex issues in public and social policy? Does collaborative governance fair well on issues of legitimacy, accountability, or social justice, whether we talk about governing cities, health care, education, migration, or environmental policy? The impressive international outlook of the conference, with over 33 countries covered in different case studies implies not only that key concerns cut across continents, but also that collaboration, partnerships and co-productions are also equally fundamental aspects of global governance.No doubt the four keynote speakers Chris Ansell (Berkeley), Erik-Hans Klijn, (Erasmus University), Helen Sullivan (Melbourne), and Jacob Torfing (Roskilde) will throw a lot of interesting questions and suggestions on the table. Continue reading Policy & Politics 2014 conference: The challenges of leadership and collaboration in the 21st century→
In advance of our forthcoming annual conference, plenary speaker Professor Jacob Torfing, Roskilde University, Denmark, gives us a preview of his presentation on ‘how to lead and manage collaborative innovation’.
The current drivers of innovation in the public sector are easy to spot. Internal pressures from budgetary constraints, policy failures and rising professional ambitions of public employees as well as external pressures from demanding citizens and stakeholders, critical publics, inquisitorial mass media and political demand for enhancing the structural or systemic competitiveness of nation states in the face of globalization have all contributed to placing innovation at the top of the public sector agenda where it is likely to stay for quite some time. Continue reading How to lead and manage collaborative innovation→