International Challenges and Perspectives
Edited by Jeffrey A. Raffel, Peter Leisink and Anthony E. Middlebrooks
Chapter 5: Dutch Civil Service Leadership: Torn Between Managerial and Policy-Oriented Leadership Roles
Trui Steen and Frits M. Van der Meer INTRODUCTION Given the traditionally highly opinionated nature and perhaps also the Calvinist heritage of Dutch society, it is sometimes said that every Dutchman envisions himself or herself as a chosen leader of a group often consisting of just one person. Thus leadership is not easily recognized and followed. This thread in Dutch society is perhaps a little exaggerated. Even so, discussing Dutch top civil servants in terms of administrative leaders (let alone adding the adjective political-administrative) has long seemed inappropriate. Not only has the legal-constitutional approach that predominated in the past been responsible for this caution, but also the tainted nature of the concept, given European history and the often boasted nonelitist nature of Dutch society. Nevertheless leadership issues have reached academia in the past decades and from there have spread into government. Although leadership theory frequently differentiates between leaders and management executives (for example, Bennis and Namus 1985), in public administration literature the terms ‘manager’ and ‘leader’ are often used interchangeably (Jreisat 1999). NPM reforms have focused on the roles of top civil servants as socalled public sector managers, leading to the development of a professional managerial, entrepreneurial model of public sector leadership. This chapter analyzes the extent to which the managerial leadership focus of the senior civil service has impacted the original balance in the double role of bureaucratic leadership, namely acting both as the manager of the department and as a shaper of politics within the specific department’s sectoral...
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