International Challenges and Perspectives
Edited by Jeffrey A. Raffel, Peter Leisink and Anthony E. Middlebrooks
Chapter 9: A New Look at Leadership in Collaborative Networks: Process Catalysts
Myrna P. Mandell and Robyn Keast INTRODUCTION 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...
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