T01P02 - Theory and Practice of Leadership in Public Policy

Topic : Policy Process Theories

Chair : Maria Tullia Galanti - tullia.galanti@gmail.com

Second Chair : Gabriele Segre - g.segre@u.nus.edu

General Objectives, Research Questions and Scientific Relevance

Call for papers

Session 1 Leadership and Public Policy: Exploring the Relationship

Thursday, June 29th 08:15 to 10:15 (Manasseh Meyer MM 2 - 1)


Gabriele Segre - g.segre@u.nus.edu - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy


Leadership as agency: an exploration of the theories of the policy process

Maria Tullia Galanti - tullia.galanti@gmail.com - Department of Social and Political Sciences, University of Milan - Italy

Giliberto Capano - giliberto.capano@unibo.it - Università di Bologna - Italy

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Public policy analysis has been developing a number of theoretical frameworks to understand the policy process, with distinct epistemological and empirical applications (Capano 2009). Most of these theories and approaches offer explanations for policy dynamics that are rooted in the structural dimension of politics, while some others acknowledge some role for agency. Agency takes on different forms and meanings (for example: entrepreneurship, brokerage, leadership). Nonetheless, the same function (e.g. entrepreneurship) is attributed to very different actors and, at the same time, the different definitions of agency overlap. Leadership makes no exception to this pattern: generally considered as crucial for the unravelling of the policy process, most of the time it is absent in the debate around the Advocacy Coalition Framework, the Path Dependency Theory, the Punctuated Equilibrium Theory and the Multiple Stream Approach. Leadership is just echoed in recent studies on discursive institutionalism. This state of the art creates conceptual confusion and prevents the development of genuinely comparative research designs aimed at clarifying the role of leadership in driving and steering the policy process. This paper critically reviews the public policy frameworks in order to clarify the characteristics of leadership as a specific function in the policy process, distinguish leadership for other forms of agency. The paper proposes a clearer conceptualisation of leadership in order to account for different instances of policy dynamics. It also proposes that leadership may have a prominent role in some phases of the policy process, while its contribution is less visible in others.

Developing policy leadership – the key to strengthening policy capacity?

Deborah Gleeson - d.gleeson@latrobe.edu.au - School of Psychology and Public Health - Australia

David Legge - d.legge@latrobe.edu.au - La Trobe University - Australia

Developing policy leadership – the key to strengthening policy capacity?


Deborah Gleeson and David Legge


Prescriptions for building policy capacity in public sector organisations are often framed as checklists of capabilities and operational requirements which must be in place to underpin effective policy development and implementation. While such checklists can be useful for the purpose of identifying issues that need to be addressed, they are not so useful for designing strategic interventions to develop policy capacity. The appropriate mix of strategies to develop policy capacity in any given situation depends on the particular contingencies of the organisation and its context. Just as policy development requires judgement, flexibility and strategy, so too does policy capacity building. Organisational change requires cultural shifts, and depends on the agency of individuals.


Drawing on interviews conducted with policy officers in an Australian state health bureaucracy, this paper explores the proposition that developing policy leadership is key to strengthening policy capacity. Findings suggest that there are four elements of policy leadership that distinguish it from public sector leadership more generally: (i) judgement in relation to the appropriate choice of policy approaches, capacity building strategies and trade-offs; (ii) guidance and mentoring; (iii) local initiative and responsibility for public good and organisational goals; and (iv) the ability to mobilise organisational resources to build policy capacity. The paper concludes with a set of principles for developing policy leadership in the health bureaucracy.



Machiavellian Advisors: Political Leadership and the Problem of Policy Advisors

Haig Patapan - h.patapan@griffith.edu.au - Griffith University - Australia

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Political advisors are playing an increasingly important role in modern Westminster democracies. The rise of what appears to be a ‘third element’ in executive government has prompted various attempts to describe and understand the evolving and complex aspects of such roles. Most of this scholarship has been premised on a relatively simple principal-agency model to account for the relationship between political leaders and their advisors, with less attention paid to the specific dynamics that shape the interactions between them. In this paper I examine Machiavelli’s evaluation of the role of advisors to see the insights he may provide for contemporary political practice. Machiavelli is instructive for a number of reasons, but above all because he claims in The Prince to provide a break from tradition, inaugurating a ‘modern’ perspective, thereby providing a useful way to reflect on both the traditional conceptions and the innovation he proposes for leaders to engage with advisors. The paper argues that Machiavelli anticipates and theoretically justifies the claim that due to differences in ability, interest, and the absence of a conception of the common good, there is a fundamental disjunction between the interests and abilities of leaders and advisors. This distance, according to Machiavelli, can be managed, especially by the use of institutions and other measures by leaders, but it can never be overcome. Indeed, the inescapable differences in ability, and especially their concern with their reputation, will always expose leaders to the dangers of flattery, the advisor’s powerful weapon that will always make leaders vulnerable to their able advisors. Machiavelli’s insights into the relationship between leaders and advisors therefore clearly reveals underlying and fundamental structural tensions between traditional and contemporary notions of public service and the best means to address them.


Leadership and public Organization Reforms in a Small Developing State

Sonia Gatchair - sonia.gatchair@uwimona.edu.jm - University of the West Indies, Mona - Jamaica

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This study focuses on political and administrative leadership associated with reforms to improve effectiveness and efficiency in public financial management in Jamaica, a small developing state. While reforms to improve financial management have been ongoing, the global financial crisis of 2008, increasing scarcity of resources, and demands of international lending agencies accelerated the depth and pace of changes over the past eight years. As with other public policies, multiple interests shape decision-making and implementation on the direction of reforms, therefore leadership becomes critical to achieve balance among interests. Both political and administrative leadership are a necessary though not sufficient input to drive the process at different levels. The embeddedness of leadership in complex contextual challenges that include technological imperatives, demands of international lending agencies, and political and bureaucratic agendas suggests the need for administrators to both drive and respond to directional forces.  It further suggests that leaders may need to balance leader and follower roles and even demonstrate both simultaneously in order successfully achieve change. The balance implies deliberate and marked oscillations among roles rather than the maintenance of the perspective of a neutral bureaucrat. Given for example a simple definition of leadership as an “individual who has followers”, the lack of conceptual clarity and difficulties in conceptualization of the term leadership are highlighted.  This paper examines the role of leadership in public financial management reforms and explores the extent to which leaders engage in role shifts while facilitating reforms driven by internal and external forces. The paper draws on elite interviews of political, senior and middle-level administrative managers, and workers in public entities. While many studies focus on transformational, transactional, or participatory leadership styles to effect change in the public sector, not many studies have explored the use of adaptive leadership to cope with the contextual challenges identified in this study. This paper argues that transformational, transactional, and participatory leadership styles do not accurately reflect leader roles. Instead leaders have to be flexible because of complex challenges, and the need to engage different interests in the change process. Hence the paper seeks to advance theoretical and practical perspectives on leadership and highlight its importance to decision-making and implementation.

Session 2 Case Studies in Policy Leadership

Thursday, June 29th 10:30 to 12:30 (Manasseh Meyer MM 2 - 1)


Maria Tullia Galanti - tullia.galanti@gmail.com - Department of Social and Political Sciences, University of Milan - Italy

Deborah Gleeson - d.gleeson@latrobe.edu.au - School of Psychology and Public Health - Australia

Leadership & Governance: the Social-ecological System of Urban Lakes in Bangalore.

Sanchayan Nath - sancnath@indiana.edu - India

Today a large number of citizen-groups are involved in the governance of Bangalore’s lakes.

The goal of this article is to analyze and characterize the leadership of such citizen groups associated with a sample of 8 lakes from the city. During this analysis, I also highlight the differences between how public entrepreneurship has been conceived by the Bloomington school and how leadership is currently conceived by management scholars. Research on leadership in the lake-groups of Bangalore illustrates the idea of ‘leadership as a continuum’ with different groups exhibiting different forms of leadership. Not only are entrepreneurial functions performed by these leaders, but they also undertake various managerial tasks. However, leading lake-groups is different from leading more formally structured organizations. Empirical findings also support the idea that leadership influences governance outcomes.  Lakes in which rejuvenation activities are led by entrepreneurial actors perform higher on governance indicators in comparison to lakes in which the leadership of associated lake-groups is weak.


Effective Leadership in Network Collaboration: Lessons Learned from the Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Program

Kyujin Jung - kjung1@korea.ac.kr - Korea University - Korea, (South) Republic of

Jesus Valero - jesus.valero@utah.edu - The University of Utah - United States

Won No - wonno@asu.edu - Arizona State University - United States

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Cross-sector collaboration has the potential to become a highly useful form of governance to effectively resolve difficult problems that cannot be addressed by a single organization or sector. While scholars and practitioners alike have a solid understanding of why organizations collaborate with one another, more research is needed about what effective collaboration looks like and the role that leadership style plays in the process. To answer these questions, this paper examines collaboration within the context of homeless policy networks—an area receiving significant policy attention in recent years—using survey data and in-depth interviews with homeless networks. Results indicate that networks are most successful in achieving performance indicators such as increasing the range of services provided by the network as opposed to increasing member commitment in the collaborative process. Network managers also engage in both relationship- and task-oriented behaviors that enhance the internal capacities of the network and foster idea sharing and information exchange among network members. Overall, this study finds that the style of leadership that a manager exhibits matters and has a significant impact on the performance of the network as a whole.

How Can We Measure Leadership And Management Competencies in a Primary Healthcare Setting in Developing Countries? Findings from a 180-Degree Assessment in Bihar, India.

Aarushi Bhatnagar - aarushibhatnagar@gmail.com - Oxford Policy Management Ltd - India

Tom Newton-Lewis - tom.newtonlewis@opml.co.uk - Oxford Policy Management New Delhi - India

Aashna Jamal - aashna.jamal3@gmail.com - Oxford Policy Management - India

Objective: The purpose of this study was to use innovative and inventive quantitative and qualitative research methods to measure leadership and management (L&M) competencies and practices in the context of a primary health system in Bihar, India.


Methodology: This study attempted to operationalize and contextualize a framework, originally designed by the Management Sciences for Health to develop leadership-training programmes in low and middle-income countries, for measuring core L&M competencies at the district and sub-district levels in Bihar. A combination of self-reported and external peer-reported behaviors and practices, using a structured Likert scale with 24 items, was used to create composite average scores for L&M competencies and practices carried out by individual managers and management teams at the district and sub-district levels in Bihar. Reliability and validity of the scale were tested and factor analysis was used to create composite scores. These quantitative data were complemented with a concurrent qualitative study, based on in-depth and key informant interviews, to understand in greater depth how and when effective leadership and strategic management were displayed. Furthermore, direct observations, using a structured checklist, to assess individual and team initiation for decision-making and problem solving at administrative meetings and on routine days at health facilities/during outreach activities were carried out.


Findings: Results from factor analysis of a 24-item scale found two domains of core leadership and management competencies, aligning with the original framework and explaining about 90% of variance. Findings from the study suggest that managers find leadership and management tasks related to use of data for decision-making, identifying challenges for starting a new programme and engaging with stakeholders from different departments/sectors more challenging. However, ratings reported by external peers suggested that, on average, managers found their tasks twice as more challenging as their self-reported ratings. This gap in the competency score was examined further for variations across type of managers, location, length of tenure, educational qualifications and trainings received.


Relevance to panel: Although leadership and management overlap and are often used interchangeably, the key difference between the two is that while leadership is concerned with setting strategic vision and high-end goals, management's role is to ensure effective organization and utilization of resources to achieve results and meet these goals. Moreover, in most primary health care settings there are multiple levels of leadership and management ranging from the community to the central government. At each level, the roles of leaders and managers differ and encompass, among other functions, supervision, capacity strengthening, team-building, planning, budgeting, identifying a need for change using relevant data. In order to understand changes in organizational culture which could further improve system performance, it is essential to develop innovative and robust measures of leadership and management competencies at each level of a health system, how they interact with one another and the institutions in place.

Institutional Change, Leadership, and Tactics: A Case Study of Performance Budgeting Reform in Jiaozuo, China

Alfred Ho - alfredtkho@gmail.com - University of Kansas - United States

zaozao zhao - zhaozz@cass.org.cn - Chinese Academy of Social Sciences - China

Using performance budgeting reform in Jiaozuo City, China as a case study, this study uses the multi-layered institutional perspective to analyze why developing countries like China are interested in performance budgeting reform despite its known challenges and limitations. It also uses the evolution of the reform for more than a decade to examine the reciprocity between leadership and institutions, something that have been under-explored by traditional institutional theories.Specifically, the paper uses the case study to illustrate how leadership can play a significant role in four different stages of institutional change and policy reform: diagnosing the needs for change, defining the vision and framing the arguments for change, executing the measures of change, and re-institutionalizing the reform measures to sustain the reform impact.  Based on the case study and the lessons learned, the paper suggests a need for more comparative research and a richer multi-disciplinary dialogue about the dynamic relationship between institutional change, reform tactics, and leadership, and how leadership may reframe the influence of institutional forces in shaping the path and outcomes of governmental reforms.  



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