Political Leadership

Political Leadership

New Horizons in Public Policy series

Howard Elcock

Political leadership is a concept central to understanding political processes and outcomes, yet its definition is elusive. Many disciplines have contributed to the study of leadership, including political theory, history, psychology and management studies. Political Leadership reviews the contributions of these disciplines along with a discussion of the work of classic authors such as Niccolo Machiavelli, Max Weber and Robert Michels.

Chapter 4: Leadership, Administration and Management

Howard Elcock

Subjects: politics and public policy, leadership

Extract

RIVAL MANAGEMENT VALUES At the end of the 20th century management had become the philosopher’s stone of better government. Political leaders and management gurus advocating the development of a ‘new public management’ believed that better management would increase efficiency, lead to reduced taxation, improve the quality of public services and make those services more responsive to their users’ needs and wishes (Waldegrave, 1993). Above all, there was a widespread belief that, by the extension of the management practices of private businesses into the public services, the performance of their providers and the quality of the services they provided would be improved. This led to a ‘generic management’ movement, one of whose main tenets was that the principles of business management could be successfully applied to any organization operating in any economic or social context (Perry and Kraemer, 1983). Hence a major preoccupation of the political leaders of the New Right became improving public management, in part because of their belief that the ‘burden of the state’ needed to be reduced to its smallest possible compass. The way to secure this was to compel public servants to concentrate on achieving the maximum economy to save money and maximum efficiency to secure the provision of the most services possible for the least input of resources. Hence these political leaders demanded that public servants should address new management objectives set by imitating business management. However, this generic view conceals a series of fallacies (Elcock, 1995a). Above all, it does not recognize that the...

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