Strategy and Leadership: An Elite Study of the Strategy Process in a Local Authority

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2001-10

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The University of Birmingham

Abstract

Over the last 20 years or so, local government in Britain has been experiencing a relentless, rapidly changing environment. With successive Conservative governments introducing policies to encourage a new and improved managerialist approach during the 1980s and 1990s, there has been a shift away from the bureaucratic and professionally dominated type of administration to a more customer-focused, private sector style of management and service delivery. The impact of these changes has provoked many local authorities to adopt a more strategic approach. This thesis examines the strategy process in one such authority, a London Borough, during the midnineties following the appointment of its new chief executive. The process is seen as one essentially driven by the need for the authority to respond more effectively to the internal and external exigencies facing local government. As a case study, it explores the way the leadership, both executive and the political, moved the authority away from the former professional bureaucracy towards a more corporate way of working and management style. The thesis traces the perceptions, speculations and behaviour of the senior elected members of the political administration as well as those of the new chief executive and describes how these influenced the strategy process.

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