Managing Social Issues
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Managing Social Issues

A Public Values Perspective

Edited by Peter Leisink, Paul Boselie, Maarten van Bottenburg and Dian Marie Hosking

Western societies face complex social issues and a growing diversity of views on how these should be addressed. The traditional view focuses on government and public policy but neglects the initiatives that non-profit and private organizations and local networks take. This book presents a broader variety of viewpoints and theories. Looking at various cases, the authors analyse conflicting values and interests, actors’ understandings of the public values related to social issues, and their action to create what they regard as public value. Drawing together these perspectives the authors point the way to how government and the private and voluntary sectors can work in tandem to resolve social issues.
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Chapter 13: Ethnographies of leadership: the convergence of diverging values

Martijn Koster and Eva van Dijk


In recent years, leadership has proven to be a fertile topic for interdisciplinary research on the ways in which it develops and is perceived by various publics and communities. This chapter explores new ways of imagining leadership as it sets out to come to an understanding of how leaders, in particular those in public contexts, are confronted with diverging values when addressing complex social issues. We illustrate how debates about public values ‘are not the exclusive province of government’ (Jorgensen and Bozeman 2007, p. 373) but may also be part of the everyday practices in local communities and organizations in which different stakeholders have different values. We show how, regarding specific social issues, these stakeholders make claims about the values they think are at stake and argue about what should be done in the public interest as they understand this (see Chapter 1, this volume). We suggest that it is possible to see leaders in the public sector as operating on the boundary between different values. These values may diverge and may even exclude each other. Specifically, our studies show how public values may oppose private interests and how different public values may oppose each other. Although seemingly irreconcilable, we argue that such values do converge in the person of the leader.

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