A new look at leadership in collaborative networks : process catalysts

Mandell, Myrna & Keast, Robyn L. (2009) A new look at leadership in collaborative networks : process catalysts. In Raffel, Jeffery, Leisink, Peter, & Middlebrooks, Anthony (Eds.) Public Sector Leadership : International Challenges and Perspectives. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, pp. 163-178.

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Collaborative networks have come to form a large part of the public sector’s strategy to address ongoing and often complex social problems. The relational power of networks, with its emphasis on trust, reciprocity and mutuality provides the mechanism to integrate previously dispersed and even competitive entities into a collective venture(Agranoff 2003; Agranoff and McGuire 2003; Mandell 1994; Mandell and Harrington 1999). It is argued that the refocusing of a single body of effort to a collective contributes to reducing duplication and overlap of services, maximizes increasingly scarce resources and contributes to solving intractable or 'wicked’problems (Clarke and Stewart 1997). Given the current proliferation of collaborative networks and the fact that they are likely to continue for some time, concerns with the management and leadership of such arrangements for optimal outcomes are increasingly relevant. This is especially important for public sector managers who are used to working in a top-down, hierarchical manner. While the management of networks (Agranoff and McGuire 2001, 2003), including collaborative or complex networks (Kickert et al. 1997; Koppenjan and Klijn 2004), has been the subject of considerable attention, there has been much less explicit discussion on leadership approaches in this context. It is argued in this chapter that the traditional use of the terms ‘leader’ or ‘leadership’ does not apply to collaborative networks. There are no ‘followers’ in collaborative networks or supervisor-subordinate relations. Instead there are equal, horizontal relationships that are focused on delivering systems change. In this way the emergent organizational forms such as collaborative networks challenge older models of leadership. However despite the questionable relevance of old leadership styles to the contemporary work environment, no clear alternative has come along to take its place.

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ID Code: 27591
Item Type: Book Chapter
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Leadership , Collaborative Networks
ISBN: 9781848440890
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Organisation and Management Theory (150310)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Business Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 Edward Elgar
Deposited On: 28 Sep 2009 00:02
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2015 16:04

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