Poor Leadership and Bad Governance
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Poor Leadership and Bad Governance

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

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.
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Chapter 10: Conclusion

Ludger Helms


1 Ludger Helms This conclusion has to start with addressing two potential misunderstandings in relation to poor leadership and bad governance: first, the focus of this volume on the G-8 countries is not meant to imply that these countries are uniquely infamous for their manifestations of poor leadership and bad governance. In fact, given their relative success on so many policy fronts we might rather suggest that they have been better led and governed than most. Nevertheless, some countries of the G-8 group, at least temporarily, have been considered to be prominent cases of poor leadership and/ or bad governance. This is true in particular for Italy, Japan and Russia. But even these countries have been home to leaders, such as Alcide De Gasperi, Yoshida Shigeru, or Mikhail Gorbachev, whose performance has been considered by many to represent convincing examples of good leadership. Secondly, even leaders figuring prominently in this volume have by no means been disappointing or problematic in all respects, which points to a more general finding: there have been notably different patterns and degrees of poor leadership and bad governance, and the two phenomena do not necessarily have to appear together. Leaders may be weak and inefficient but still be driven by good intentions and sincere respect for the values of democratic governance. To some extent, the latter would even appear to be responsible for the former. A lack of interest in, and feeling for, the operative dimensions of politics can undermine the realization of a leader’s...

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