A Public Values Perspective
Edited by Peter Leisink, Paul Boselie, Maarten van Bottenburg and Dian Marie Hosking
Chapter 13: Ethnographies of leadership: the convergence of diverging values
In recent years, leadership has proven to be a fertile topic for interdisciplinary research on the ways in which it develops and is perceived by various publics and communities. This chapter explores new ways of imagining leadership as it sets out to come to an understanding of how leaders, in particular those in public contexts, are confronted with diverging values when addressing complex social issues. We illustrate how debates about public values ‘are not the exclusive province of government’ (Jorgensen and Bozeman 2007, p. 373) but may also be part of the everyday practices in local communities and organizations in which different stakeholders have different values. We show how, regarding specific social issues, these stakeholders make claims about the values they think are at stake and argue about what should be done in the public interest as they understand this (see Chapter 1, this volume). We suggest that it is possible to see leaders in the public sector as operating on the boundary between different values. These values may diverge and may even exclude each other. Specifically, our studies show how public values may oppose private interests and how different public values may oppose each other. Although seemingly irreconcilable, we argue that such values do converge in the person of the leader.
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