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Contextualizing leader dynamics: how public service leaders endeavour to build influence

Wallace, Mike ORCID: and Tomlinson, Michael 2010. Contextualizing leader dynamics: how public service leaders endeavour to build influence. Leadership 6 (1) , pp. 21-45. 10.1177/1742715009354238

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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.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
Uncontrolled Keywords: Contextual manipulability ; leaders’ context ; leader dynamics ; leadership theory ; public service leaders
Publisher: Sage
ISSN: 1742-7150
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2022 14:33

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