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Co-creating public service leadership development in a new era of collaboration

Worrall, Rob (2009) Co-creating public service leadership development in a new era of collaboration. In: 5th European Conference on Management, Leadership and Governance, 5-6 Nov 2009, Athens, Greece.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


The UK Government’s policy report (Cabinet Office, 2008) entitled “Excellence and Fairness in Public Services”, sets out the new phase of reform which should enable public services to go from “good to great” focused on the needs of service users and citizens, who are empowered to express their needs and make informed choices, rather than around traditional professional structures of service provider hierarchies and organisational boundaries or “….moving to Dynamic capability – becoming more creative and more capably handling the wicked problems of leadership rather than working in the old familiar ways” (Clark cited in Public Servant (Thomas, 2008)).
However, recent departmental capability reviews across the UK government (Barwise et al. 2007) identified improving leadership within the UK civil service, as key to achieving “world class” public services (Cabinet Office, 2008). In addition, Sutherland and Ley (2009), who interviewed senior civil servants responsible for leading the delivery of the UK government’s strategic objectives, clearly identified the need to improve the quality of, and the skills required for, effective collaboration across the public service as one of their key challenges.
In a new era of collaboration, public service leaders in the 21st century need to be able to work collaboratively across the whole public service system horizontally across organisational and sector boundaries, but also vertically across national, regional and local levels of governance (Seddon, 2008; Benington and Hartley, 2009). This will need to use traditional skills such as diplomat and specialist, but also move“towards using post conventional action logics (mindsets) such as individualist, strategist and alchemist, stepping beyond their existing frameworks into new and more integrative and inclusive action logics” (Mead, 2009). This provides a significant challenge to both public services and to their respective leadership academies.
Such an alliance of sector based public service leadership academies is attempting to model
collaborative working across organisational and sector boundaries, to co-create and deliver a new leadership development initiative. This collaboration builds public service leaders capacity to work collaboratively across the whole public service system to improve outcomes for individuals, citizens and communities of place and interest.
This working paper sets out an emerging approach for exploring two key issues arising from this work. Firstly, the challenges faced by the leaders of a disparate group of organisations, working within different business models, seeking to work together to create better public service leaders capable of responding to intractable, interdependent, socio-economic problems or “wicked issues” (Grint, 2008; Thomas, 2008). Secondly, whether in developing their new collaborative leadership initiative, the alliance is able to resist being drawn back into institutional silos and into delivering old models of leadership “teaching the right answers instead of co-creating new knowledge and theory about how to effectively lead across the public service system (Mead, 2008).
This exploratory research will seek to build theory from observation and interpretation of people’s experiences (Yin, 2003). It will use the development of the leadership initiative by the alliance as a case study, using quantitative as well as qualitative methods in a mixed methodology approach also known as the “pragmatic paradigm” (Tashakkori and Teddlie, 1998).

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Additional Information: Published: ECMLG 2009 - 5th European Conference on Management, Leadership and Governance – Athens, Greece Edited by: Dr Dan Remenyi, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. 274 Pages. Print version of proceedings of the conference held at the ATExcelixi Conference Centre, Athens, Greece on the 5-6 November 2009. ISBN: 978-1-906638-53-5
Depositing User: Barry Hall


Item ID: 7615
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Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2017 08:18
Last Modified: 20 May 2019 13:01


Author: Rob Worrall

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Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism


Business and Management > Business and Management

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