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 10: Setting the Course: Leadership, Not Management

Howard Elcock

Subjects: politics and public policy, leadership

Extract

MANAGERIALISM IS NOT ENOUGH For the last 20 years management issues have dominated the governmental agenda, but now other issues are either being brought to the forefront of political leaders’ attention or are forcing their way onto their agenda, which require a very different approach. In 1990 Christopher Pollitt defined managerialism as ‘a set of beliefs and practices at the core of which burns the seldom-tested assumption that better management will prove an effective solvent for a wide range of economic and social ills’ (1990: 1). He criticized managerialism in a detailed and scholarly examination of the application of the so-called ‘New Public Management’ in Britain and the United States. He proposed a remedy for the limitations of managerialism ‘by deliberately extending the range of actors involved in the running of the public services’. This should provide politicians and service providers alike with ‘a new, informed and highly legitimate source of opinion on “what should be done”’. (ibid.: 183). What is required is more extensive citizen participation, not just consumerism; he thus anticipated the critics of the Citizen’s Charter who argued that being treated like a consumer in a shop is no substitute for citizens actively participating in community decision making (see Chandler, 1996). Pollitt went on to argue as follows: In theory, rising levels of general education combined with the possibilities of modern information technology should make a radical extension of public participation less difficult but there are still many obstacles – political, practical and ideological – in its way....

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