Mobilizing Leadership in Cities and Regions Page: 7
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Regional Studies, Regional Science 7
Beer, 2010) and the contribution leadership makes to the achievement of environmental
sustainability (Sotarauta, Horlings, & Liddle, 2012). Importantly, there is not a single
theory of leadership that answers all the critical questions economic development
practitioners or regional scientists would ask. Academic accounts of leadership tend to
be dominated by case studies (e.g., Peters, 2012; Raagma, Kindel, & Lusi, 2012) or
models that appear to be over-simplified and abstract - though this is to be expected
when we consider that leadership is - by definition - contextual. There are, however, a
number of perspectives that can inform both good practice and the development of a
more robust understanding of place leadership. These contributions include work on
defining leadership within places, understanding the critical components of effective
leadership; and scholarship on the relationship between institutions and leadership.
Defining leadership at the local level is an important first step towards implement-
ing good leadership practice within a community and in advancing our understanding of
this important concept. Stough, DeSantis, Stimson, & Roberts (2001, p. 177) argue that
place-based leadership is 'the tendency of the community to collaborate across sectors
in a sustained, purposeful manner to enhance the economic performance or economic
environment of its region'. Stimson, Stough, & Roberts (2002) propose that
leadership for regional economic development will not be based on traditional hierarchical
relationships; rather it will be a collaborative relationship between institutional actors
encompassing the public, private and community sectors - and it will be based on mutual
trust and co-operation. (p. 279)
There are numerous other definitions of leadership at the local scale (e.g., Bennis &
Nanus, 1991; Burns, 1978), but these two are attractive because they draw out a number
of themes embedded within, and common across, research into local leadership.
Critically, leadership at the local scale is seen to be focused on the goal of improving
economic - and potentially other - outcomes; it tends to be collaborative rather than
hierarchical - that is, it involves collaboration across a number institutions, individuals
and firms; and it has a distinct long-term dimension. Stimson et al. (2009, p. 34) iden-
tify three critical factors for effective local leadership: it should involve the sharing of
power, it should be flexible and it should be rooted in entrepreneurialism. Research and
writing on local leadership is often explicitly focused on transformational leadership
rather than on transactional leadership (Bass, 1985), with the former emphasizing the
processes that transcend organizational, environmental and human limitations in order to
manage effectively a process of change. Importantly, not all individuals or groups who
occupy leadership positions meet the 'effective leadership' criteria identified by Stimson
et al. (2009). Some individuals occupy positions of influence simply to maintain a
position of power, sustain the status quo, or because of long-standing traditions and
expectations within that community (Gray & Sinclair, 2005).
It is important to distinguish between formal and informal leadership within
communities. As Sotarauta et al. (2012) note, leadership is often recognized in terms of
formally constituted hierarchical power and while formal offices are important - mayors,
members of government-appointed boards, etc. - leadership is also expressed informally.
Such informal leadership spans institutional and spatial boundaries into territories where
leaders act without formal authorization but with a clear sense of need. Often this type
of leadership presents a different set of challenges for individuals, and groups as the
goals to be achieved are often poorly defined there may be an absence of networks to
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Beer, Andrew & Clower, Terry L. Mobilizing Leadership in Cities and Regions, article, December 16, 2013; New York, New York. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1049723/m1/3/: accessed December 12, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Arts and Sciences.