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Contextualising leader dynamics: how public service leaders endevour to build influence

Wallace, Mike and Tomlinson, Michael (2011) Contextualising leader dynamics: how public service leaders endevour to build influence In, Preedy, Margaret, Bennett, Nigel and Wise, Christine (eds.) Educational Leadership: Context, Strategy and Collaboration. London, GB, SAGE (Published in association with The Open University).

Record type: Book Section


A generic conceptualization is developed of the evolutionary relationship between leader activity and context, informed by structuration theory. It is argued that theoretical development to date has underplayed the extent of leaders’ attempted--and more or less successful--manipulation of contextual factors, within structural parameters that bound their agency. A heuristic model of leaders’ interaction with their context is articulated. This links their degree of agency and its delimitation with the degree to which contextual factors can be manipulated to extend leaders’ platform for future influence. Findings from qualitative research on the perceptions of ‘top’ organization leaders in the English public services illustrate the application of the model. Indicative factors are perceived to be variably manipulable. The experience of one successful secondary school headteacher portrays how the context-leader dynamic operates cumulatively and recursively. The conclusion considers the implications of this conceptualization for theorizing, research, and policy for improving leadership practice.

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Accepted/In Press date: December 2011
Keywords: leader dynamics, contextual manipulability, leaders’ context, leadership theory, public service leaders
Organisations: Southampton Education School


Local EPrints ID: 200119
ISBN: 9781446201640
PURE UUID: ca31a975-36e1-44c3-93ce-20652c7d8616

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Date deposited: 24 Oct 2011 09:16
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 11:15

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Author: Mike Wallace
Editor: Margaret Preedy
Editor: Nigel Bennett
Editor: Christine Wise

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