The ‘Publicness-puzzle’ in public leadership. A theoretical exploration of leadership in public organizations

Stephan Dorsman, M Thaens, SM (Sandra) Groeneveld

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference contributionAcademic


Following a contingency approach we argue that the content and style of administrative leadership depends on characteristics of the public context. The purpose of the paper is to develop hypotheses on the relationships between several dimensions of publicness and the content and style of leadership, by reviewing academic literature on public leadership. To build our argument we first conceptualize leadership and distinguish several theories, definitions, and styles of leadership based on four different basic conceptions of what leadership is: Leadership as traits; 2. Leadership as behavior; 3. Leadership as managing of meaning; 4. Leadership as interaction processes. Then, Bozeman’s model of publicness is described as well as the effects of publicness on organizational environments, organizational goals, organizational structures and managerial values. As a final step we develop hypotheses that relate leadership to publicness and identify possible contradictory demands administrative leadership has to deal with. We conclude by outlining a research agenda on administrative leadership.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2012
EventNIG Annual Workconference - Leuven
Duration: 29 Nov 201230 Nov 2012


ConferenceNIG Annual Workconference

Research programs

  • EUR ESSB 25


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