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Sunday, 12 December 2010

Τέτοια στον δρόμο...

Albania from Corfu
I'm missing dear Greece. We'll be there again in February. Sailing down the Adriatic from Venice, making landfall at dawn on the Acroceraunian Peninsular, past the snow capped peaks south of Kadare's town of Gjirokastër, through the Corfu Channel, over to Epirus south to Igoumenitsa from where we'll catch another ferry to the island, thence to Ano Korakiana.
Item sent to Caroline Rance for our weekly Inlogov Newsletter:
I’m back from nine excellently received one day local government seminars for Mayors, Deputy Mayors and Chief Executives – seven in Australia with Professor John Martin of La Trobe University in Northern Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania (see photo) and two in New Zealand for the SOLGM (Society of Local Government Managers New Zealand) in Wellington and an in-house event for Rangitikei Council. This is Simon’s third teaching tour in Australia, his first in New Zealand – focusing on the theory and practice of negotiating the overlapping responsibilities of councillors and managers at the top of local government. John Martin has replicated, in Australia, Simon’s film research into the joint leadership of lead councillors and officers. (The photo shows John and Simon at a workshop in Tasmania in front of a filmed conversation of Mayor Felicity Ann Lewis and CEO Mark Searle of Marion Council, Australia).
E-mail from my colleague Andrew Coulson
Simon - welcome back to cold and snowy UK! We got these comments a few days ago. Many of them refer to your part of the paper - interesting! I should have passed then on straight away. I think you should reply to George! All the best - Andrew 
 Comments from Prof George Jones on our paper - New Options for Political Management in Local Government
pp. 13-15* Where can I read what Simon has written? (*pp.18-19 in the linked PDF file)
I find the three spaces confused. The figure is fine – I agree there are three types of leadership, but the text uses in the bottom para the word “technical” as if it is the same as “professional”. I dislike the way “administrative” is diminished into minor tasks, like record keeping. There are (i) political leadership, as with English directly-elected mayors/leaders; (ii) administrative leadership which involves coordinating in a generalist way the more specialised units below, as with chief executives/directors of finance; and (iii) these units are headed by specialised chief officers, with their specialised professional expertise. The last two comprise the appointed permanent officials, as distinct from the elected impermanent political leaders.
p.14*. para 1. In the USA the mayor/manager system makes a clear division between political and managerial, with the mayor being of the “weak mayor” variety, and the manager appointed by the council. But “strong mayors” usually need the support of an appointed chief administrative officer, appointed by the mayor. There seems to be a convergence of the two types in practice. (*p.18 in PDF file)
p.14. para.4. I miss from the chief executive’s role coordinating the other officers and their units, and advising the political leadership even about political aspects. Perhaps that is subsumed in the word “situation” NEVER WRITE A WEAK WORD LIKE “SITUATION”. Be specific about what you mean. 
p. 14. para 5. I agree about the moveability of boundaries – all of them. So I worry in para 6 about “a blend of political and administrative contributions” without mention of  “professional” too. I like the phrase “combined dynamics” (and ‘bridge’ and ‘exchange’, but if your threefold distinctions of figure 1 are to be maintained then you need to add the other (‘professional’) to your twofold blend. Another niggle: chief executives and treasurers giving “administrative leadership” are usually “professionals” in their own right, but they are more generalists than specialists. 
p. 15*. para 2. Here you recognise the three-fold distinctions I mentioned above at  (*p.19 in PDF file)
pp.13-15. You refer to them now as (i) “technical”; (ii) “managerial or administrative”, and (iii) “political or strategic”.  You should at the start of the chapter have given a clearer picture of the three leaderships, and their interactions.
My reply:
Dear George...To respond to some of your very helpful points, I’ve found it useful following Churchill’s maxim ( “The English never draw a line without blurring it”) to imagine a tense and dynamic interaction of managerial, professional and political activity in the making of government. The topographical approach and the idea of overlapping zones offer rich metaphors, e.g. centrifugal or centrifocal forces mediated by interpersonal negotiation among people spending more time in one space than the other. 
Good local government is made by people who are part manager, part politician, part professional. My simplified terms are at the tip of several icebergs of definition about differences between managerialism (changed in the paper to ‘administrative leadership’), professionalism (changed to 'technical leadership') and politics and the tension between them. I’m an anthropologist seeking to explain structurally determined conflict and a psychologist seeing how interpersonal skills and values can reduce or amplify those conflicts – with the proviso that conflict isn’t of itself bad, nor its opposite good. Some of what I’ve written can be found here.
I’ve tried to make this material more accessible by putting links to files on a page of my blog Democracy Street. Not all servers permit access to, so if you’d like to see any of these papers, email me at and I’ll send one or more as an email attachment. 
I write, but my enthusiasm has revolved around making films of senior politicians and managers in conversation about their working relationships. I use this to explore political-management leadership on seminars for practitioners. Elaborate ethical procedures apply to the use of this material, but I’ve had permissions from those involved, or their estates, to stream some film on the Internet. Extracts with transcripts and comments can be seen by clicking on the links distributed through my paper on Political-Management Leadership - links the editor was unable to include in the text version of my chapter in the 2008 book - Leadership Learning.
Some of the clips referenced in the paper can also be seen with others plus comments and, in some cases, transcripts, here and here.
The difference between the text and the filmed conversation showing para-linguistic
I’ve ploughed an esoteric furrow in my time at inlogov – a freedom to roam for which I shall be eternally grateful to John Stewart and the culture he created there. This doesn’t mean I’ve not been a keen contributor to inlogov’s mission. A lot of my work has been in-house – here and in other countries.
John Martin & Simon Baddeley: using video in Australia (ph: Pamela Crawford)
Recent films are for reasons of their political sensitivity less available, which is why most of the films streamed via my blog on the Internet were made over two years ago, but I’m confident that the generic features of the political-management relationship have a permanence that ensures their value for both practitioners and on campus. 
This vital working relationship in government holds  fascination for me...As the technology improves, along with my understanding of methodology for accessing these conversations at the heart of democracy, I hope to be able to add to the interest and usefulness of this focus.
Your point about the CEO’s role ‘coordinating the other officers and their units’ applies also to the work of senior politicians' in the political sphere. You put your finger on the methodological challenge posed by the limitations of a camera lens (wiring more than three people for sound gets expensive and intrusively complicated). I've focused on the dyad, with occasional widening of focus in hung/balanced/NOC situations, e.g. Herts No Overall Control
You see the problem! The NOC situation here was filmed in our campus TV studio with a director deciding where to point two cameras. It makes better TV but less good research. As the method has developed I’ve excluded myself from the films, so that instead of being told about the relationships we've a chance to see the people involved having a working relationship.
Another weakness (which you’ve picked up) is that as I’ve come to understand the significance of the dynamic relationship between managers and professionals (core skills and values directly or indirectly involved in the delivery of government) as well as between managers and politicians (bringing a contrasting skills and values) I’ve focused on a dyad and not a triad. This is not necessarily a problem since it is the political-management relationship that operates ‘at the apex’. I use this diagram to open up my argument along with film from an research base collected over thirty years - a sample streamed here.
Political and professional spaces are straddled by political-management space - a hybrid zone where values created in political space encounter the legal, technical and financial parameters of government, and where professional values encounter the rationing of management working to an agenda forged in negotiation between politicians and managers. Managers connect with politicians while building alliances in professional space, and politicians while maintaining their political support, work with managers to monitor implementation. Between them, they create government. 

This and other diagrams are images for exploring the issue of how a political-management dyad relates to the larger society of government. Have you a few sentences that would help combine greater clarity with our paper’s necessary brevity? I’d be delighted to acknowledge your help if were allowed to include them in any revision. In the meantime thanks again for taking the time to make comments on the paper. Kindest regards, Simon
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Nice email from Scylla Parkyn, Hon.Sec. of the Victoria Jubilee Allotments Association about discussion at a meeting while we were out of the country:
Hello Simon...Just to let you know, the topic of beekeeping on the allotment was discussed at the last VJA meeting, and Anna , the person who is allergic bees (& who is also on the committee), said although she would prefer that bees were not right next to her plot, she has no objection to a hive being some elsewhere on site, provided that they are kept by a qualified apiarist, and that whoever keeps them goes through the proper channels, i.e. runs it by the other allotment members first. With best wishes, Scylla

1 comment:

  1. You're making me feel homesick. We'll be flying down in early May, if we can wait that long.


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