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Home » Research Projects » Public Services: Leadership Change and Public Services: Reinvigorating Performance or Reinforcing Decline?

A shot in the arm or a kick in the teeth?

Does new leadership make a difference to public service performance – and does it make things better or worse?

New brooms, it is said, sweep clean and ‘turnaround teams’ (experts who come in to help ailing organisations with management and financial expertise) have become part of the landscape of modern public services in England. The aim of this study is to focus on new leadership in local government in England and examine the effect that new leaders and those they appoint have on the public services they are put in place to turn around. How often and under what conditions do leadership changes lead to service improvements, and in what circumstances can such changes be an obstacle to success or even a trigger for failure?

This study will look at four key aspects of this question:

What the research means for policymakers and the wider community

Research Methods

The study will use a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods. The main part of the project will consist of assembling and analysing a comprehensive dataset on service performance, political and managerial leadership change, and selected variables that may influence the relationship between leadership and performance for almost 150 English local authorities from 2000/2001 to 2006/2007. The aim is to see how far leadership change affects service performance variables.

Following on from the statistical analysis, a set of qualitative case studies will be undertaken, looking at political leaders, Chief Executives and Chief Officers, to identify the mechanisms associated with the relationships between the variables and to explore a broader range of factors that influence the relationship between elite succession and performance.

Project Outputs and Related Webpages

This project has project page on the Centre for Local and Regional Government Research website, which is regularly updated with new information by the project researchers.

 PAPERS:

 George A. Boyne, Oliver James, Peter John, and Nicolai Petrovsky. “Top Management Turnover and Organizational Performance: A Test of a Contingency Model.” Public Administration Review. Forthcoming (notified of acceptance on January 25, 2010). 

George Boyne, Oliver James, Peter John, and Nicolai Petrovsky (June 2010) ‘What if Public Management Reform Actually Works? The Paradoxical Success of Performance Management in English Local Government’, in Helen Margetts, Perri 6, and Christopher Hood (Eds) Paradoxes of Modernization: Unintended Consequences of Public Policy Reform, OUP

(1) October 2008, Executive succession in English local government, Public Money & Management, Vol 28 (5) 267-274

Dependent variables: Indicators of average senior management turnover
Key explanatory variables: Indicators of the organizational environment, politics and performance

Executive Summary and full text pdf

(2) Democracy and government performance: holding incumbents accountable in English local governments The Journal of Politics (2009), 71: 1273-1284

Dependent variable: Electoral support for the incumbent party
Key explanatory variables: Indicators of public service performance

Full paper in Journal of Politics

Executive Summary and full text pdf 

(3) Does political change affect senior management turnover? An empirical analysis of top-tier local authorities in England,  Public Administration, Vol 88(1): 136-153

Dependent variables: Senior management team turnover rate and chief executive succession
Key explanatory variables: Change in political control and low public service performance

Executive Summary and full text pdf 

(4) Does public service performance affect top management team turnover

Dependent variables: Senior management team turnover rate and chief executive succession
Key explanatory variables: Indicators of public service performance; prior chief executive succession

Programme Discussion Paper DP0802 

(5) Changing the guard or moving the deckchairs: political change and performance change in English local government

Dependent variables: Indicators of public service performance
Key explanatory variables: Indicators of political party control and change in control

Executive Summary and full text pdf 

(6) Article in JPART Special Issue on Incentives George A. Boyne, Oliver James, Peter John, and Nicolai Petrovsky ‘Does Public Service Performance Affect Top Management Turnover? ’, July 2010.

Research Team

George Boyne

George Boyne

George Boyne is Professor of Public Sector Management at Cardiff Business School. He is an Associate Editor of The British Journal of Management and The Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. He has acted as an advisor to the Audit Commission, the National Audit Office and the Local Government Association, and is a member of the United Nations Expert Group on Public Sector Effectiveness.

Email: Boyne@cardiff.ac.uk

Peter John

Peter John

Peter John holds the Hallsworth Chair of Governance, and is co-director of the Institute for Political and Economic Governance at the University of Manchester. He was co-director of the Home Office Research Programme on Civil Renewal, 2004-2005 and a consultant to the 2005 Home Office Citizenship Survey.

Email: peter.john@manchester.ac.uk

Oliver James

Oliver James

Oliver James is Reader in Politics in the Department of Politics in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Exeter. His research interests include public sector performance, user satisfaction and the reform and regulation of the public sector.

Email: o.james@exeter.ac.uk

Nicolai Petrovsky

Nicolai Petrovsky

Nicolai is research fellow at the Centre for Local and Regional Government Research, Cardiff University. His main research interest is the performance and responsiveness of public administration in new and established democracies and hihe is currently finishing his doctoral thesis on this subject.

Tel: +44 (0)29 2087 5065 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +44 (0)29 2087 5065      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Email: PetrovskyN@cardiff.ac.uk