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Pathways into Regional Leadership in Australia: Preliminary Thoughts Andrew Beer Tampere, Finland 23 and 23 April 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "Pathways into Regional Leadership in Australia: Preliminary Thoughts Andrew Beer Tampere, Finland 23 and 23 April 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 Pathways into Regional Leadership in Australia: Preliminary Thoughts Andrew Beer Tampere, Finland 23 and 23 April 2012

2 Agenda An agenda for research – Its all Markku’s fault Leadership, power and pathways to leadership Transformational Regional Leadership in Prospect: The Case of South East South Australia Next steps

3 An Agenda for Research: An Appetite for Regional Leadership Conferences 2010, 2011 and 2012 Markku (twice), Chris Collinge A well received message, but perhaps not well understood A local understanding of transactional leadership, but little comprehension of transformational leadership – With possible exception of local MP – But is this signal or noise?

4 An Agenda for Research As noted previously, leadership discourse in Australia dominated by ideas of charismatic individuals or groups – Little recognition of the role of institutions as catalysts for change A function of the highly centralised nature of the Australian state The peculiar features of Australian Westminster Federalism Neoliberalism – But can leadership emerge in Australia with the characteristics of place leadership? If so what are the key pathways?

5 An Agenda for Research Conceptual and practical challenges: – Place leadership as discussed and described in this group appears to emerge rarely in Australia Especially leadership by public sector institutions – In the Australian literature, anything that looks like place leadership appears to be largely a non metropolitan phenomenon Perhaps place leadership in the metropolitan regions is more quickly ‘captured’ by politics Place leadership within Australia at the level of state governments may well have been ignored, – Considered part of policy, or politics not leadership

6 An Agenda for Research Conceptual and practical challenges: – In practical terms it is challenging to identify a cohort or group of regional leaders Problems with self identification Problems with leaders being unrecognised or invisible – Eg farmers in the Ororro region of South Australia Problems with diffusion – eg the Stough & Stimson model of leadership and its use of civil society institutions Leaders could potentially be chairs of public sector organisations, employees, or within the private sector entirely (eg Mallee Sustainable Farming)

7 An Agenda for Research Conceptual and practical challenges: – Likely suspects Local governments but Local members of Parliament but Community organisations and industry bodies but.... – A survey of leaders therefore appears to be out of the realms of possibility Dependent upon insider knowledge

8 Leadership, power and pathways to leadership What do we know about leadership, power, and pathways to leadership in rural Australia?...community leaders tend to be older, better educated, have higher incomes and are male. Community leaders are also disproportionately drawn from the land-based elite (Gray et al 2005 p. 132). – We know leadership comes at a cost – personally and financially Elites often lead because they can with respect to time and money and they have established power relations to call upon – Leadership demands interaction with a number of interest groups and actors, some of whom have the capacity to bestow legitimacy and continuity on the leaders (Collinge and Gibney 2011).

9 Leadership, power and pathways to leadership The importance of ‘slack resources’ in allowing leadership to emerge is acknowledged – effective leaders need to have the capacity – available time, fiscal resources et cetera – to attend to community leadership tasks to hand. – Stough noted that ‘it is the availability of slack or discretionary resources that is critical....This excess or slack is the source of voluntary contributions to civic activities, or locally based and focussed community efforts’ (Stough 2003, pp ). – and the absence of leaders in many instances reflects the absence of such slack resources

10 Leadership, power and pathways to leadership The discussion of leadership suggests that in some instances, the costs of not leading are greater than the costs of leading – A trade-off model?? Gray and Sinclair (2005) noted that local leaders often resist the actions of centralising governments through a combination of processes that deflect the intent of policy. – I came to a comparable conclusion in my earlier work on the Riverland of South Australia

11 Leadership, power and pathways to leadership The above discussion leads to a series of questions: – What are the factors in Australia that contribute to the formation of place leadership that is transformational rather than transactional? – Is there are trigger that represents a trade off between the costs of leadership vs the costs of not leading? – To what degree is such leadership formation helped or hindered by existing power structures? – Are there questions of legitimacy and continuity in the formation of such leadership? – What role communication? – What role formal politics and the political aspirations of leaders? – Are there longer term effects? Do regions with leaders maintain that tradition Do those who lead retain such roles

12 Transformational Regional Leadership in Prospect: The Case of South East South Australia SE South Australia – Dairy, wine and forestry region – Population 30,000 Major centre – Mt Gambier 400km from capital – Adelaide Softwood production established since the 1920s Politically conservative

13 Transformational Regional Leadership in Prospect: The Case of South East South Australia SA Government sought to sell off timber harvesting rights for 3 rotations – Concern at the impact on local employment with the expected arrival of a major multi national – Political action at the grass roots level but led by Mayors of the three councils Wattle Range Grant Mt Gambier

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15 Transformational Regional Leadership in Prospect: The Case of South East South Australia Actions included: – Establishment of a website – Public rallies – Contact with the media – Truck protests in front of Parliament house – Questions in Parliament etc

16 Transformational Regional Leadership in Prospect: The Case of South East South Australia Outcome – Sale proceeded But significant watering down of the terms and conditions of the tender – Change in Premier due to declining popularity helped – A classic instance of government intentions for a region being deflected and reduced, rather than completely blocked by local leadership A timely test case therefore

17 Transformational Regional Leadership in Prospect: The Case of Northern Tasmania Development Northern Tasmania – Agricultural region in the Island state’s north – Region of low incomes, marginal industries and welfare dependency in a medicant State – But northern Tasmania is the Federal seat of Bass, one of the most marginal seats in Australia and a reputation for determining who wins Symbolically important Eg the forestry policy of John Howard in 2004 and Federal takeover of Devonport Hospital in 2007

18 Transformational Regional Leadership in Prospect: The Case of Northern Tasmania Development Northern Tasmania Development – A collaboration of five councils – Tradition of making available a manifesto of needs/spending opportunities to politicians at election time A tradition of some considerable duration Considerable effect in the form of Federally funded infrastructure, generous funding for industry adjustment packages and similar largesse A priori – a tradition of regional leadership that is perhaps communally enacted

19 Next Steps Interview the Mayors and others identified as leaders to investigate the themes identified above: – Trading off the costs of leadership vs the cost of not leading – Where leading this action fits within their broader lifecourse and lifeplans – Did the embedding of leadership in local government help or hinder the effort? Are there other, non obvious players? – What role existing power structures and coalitions with key actors – such as other politicians or industry – What is the tradition of leadership? Is this a significant break for Mt Gambier How do such traditions get passed down within Northern Tasmania


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