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Enacting leadership for collaborative advantage: Dilemmas of ideology and pragmatism in the activities of partnership managers

Huxham, C. and Vangen, S. (2003) Enacting leadership for collaborative advantage: Dilemmas of ideology and pragmatism in the activities of partnership managers. British Journal of Management, 14. pp. 61-91. ISSN 1045-3172

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Abstract

Working across organizations has long been recognized as a characteristic of public management, but recent years have seen a worldwide intensification in partnership working. Rhetoric about the benefits is endemic but so are complaints about the difficulty of partnership working in practice. Understanding the way that collaborative approaches may provide value is therefore an essential element of understanding the changing roles of public-sector organizations. The particular aim of this paper is to contribute to a growing understanding of the way in which individuals enact leadership roles in such situations. The focus is on partnership managers, whose main role is to organize the activities of a collaboration. The way in which partnership managers enact leadership is explored and insight into the kinds of activities that typically occupy them, the types of challenges and dilemmas that they face and typical ways in which they respond to these is provided. We suggest that the main categories of activities split into two opposing perspectives on leadership. We propose an overarching concept which suggests that collaborative leadership involves the management of a tension between ideology and pragmatism.