Leadership in public services networks: antecedents, process and outcome

In this article, the authors examine the implementation of policy aimed to promote the role of organizational networks and distributed leadership in the establishment and consolidation of public service reform. In theory, leadership and networks should complement each other, with the less hierarchical logic of the network allowing leadership of change, distributed among network members, rather than led from a single organizational apex, to flourish. In practice, as a consequence of inherent bureaucracy, power differentials between network participants, and a strong centralized performance management policy regime, a relatively parsimonious form of distributed leadership is enacted, with the networks tending towards ‘managed partnerships’.