Poor Leadership and Bad Governance

Poor Leadership and Bad Governance

Reassessing Presidents and Prime Ministers in North America, Europe and Japan

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Edited by Ludger Helms

Focusing on the presidents and prime ministers of the G8 – the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan – it explores the complex relationship between weak and ineffective leadership, undemocratic leadership techniques, and bad policies from a broad comparative perspective. What makes leaders weak or bad in different contexts? What are the consequences of their actions and behaviour? And has there been any learning from negative experience? These questions are at the centre of this fascinating joint inquiry that involves a team of truly distinguished leadership scholars.

Chapter 1: Poor Leadership and Bad Governance: Conceptual Perspectives and Questions for Comparative Inquiry

Ludger Helms

Subjects: business and management, business leadership, politics and public policy, leadership


Ludger Helms This volume brings together two concepts, those of ‘leadership’ and ‘governance’, whose major relevance has been widely acknowledged but which have tended to co-exist in isolation from each other. It seeks to break new ground in particular by specifically focusing on the bad and problematic manifestations of leadership and governance in the performance of presidents and prime ministers rather than on shining examples of successful leadership and good governance,1 and it makes a special effort to explore the territory from a broad, internationally and historically comparative perspective. This venture obviously has to start with sorting out some of the most pressing conceptual issues. LEADERSHIP AND GOVERNANCE In the international literature on different aspects of leadership and governance, the relationship between these two key concepts of contemporary political research has remained strikingly understudied. Conceptual debates centre on ‘governance’ versus ‘government’ rather than on ‘governance’ versus ‘leadership’. With very few recent exceptions,2 there is a conspicuous reluctance on both sides to engage in constructive dialogue. Many leadership scholars appear to see ‘governance’ as little more than a largely dispensable synonym for what many leadership studies have been concerned with for decades, if not centuries. Many scholars associating themselves with the governance paradigm seem to have a more specific problem with ‘leadership’, widely perceived as a strictly hierarchical concept, which governance seeks to overcome both theoretically and empirically. 1 HELMS 9780857932723 PRINT.indd 1 07/06/2012 09:32 2 Poor leadership and bad governance Such evaluations are obviously not free of...

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