After completing this course students:
- are able to apply key concepts and explanatory models of political leadership;
- have a rudimentary understanding of the structural and cultural variations in the institutionalization of political leadership in different (types of) democratic polities
- apply a variety of analytical tools to analyze political leadership and provide policy advice;
- are able to reflect upon their own leadership style based on in-class experiences & the simulation;
- are able to evaluate leadership success on the basis of original research.
This course is about an omnipresent yet curiously ill-understood phenomenon in politics and government: leadership. Calls for better, stronger, more authentic, more ethical public leadership are often heard these days – as indeed they have been on and off through the ages in most political systems.
But what does it mean when people say they want better leadership? What place can leadership have in a democracy? How is its exercise being facilitated and constrained by the institutions of democracy and the rule of law? How do people who occupy senior public offices exercise leadership and how can leadership be exercised by those who don’t?
Through watching and analyzing episodes of political drama series and documentaries, case studies, meetings with practitioners and a simulation we shall explore how we can systematically understand and evaluate various forms of public leadership, and perhaps even think intelligently about how leadership might be improved. Among the key questions the course addresses are:
- What are the distinctive and functions of leadership in politics and government?
- Is ‘democratic leadership’ an oxymoron?
- Why do people follow leaders – even really bad ones?
- How do we know successful political, administrative and civic leadership when we see it?
- What role do personality, context and skills play in leadership processes?
- How can we understand, distinguish and evaluate leadership styles – both ‘backstage’ (in working with colleagues and advisers) and ‘on stage’ (in the public eye)?
- How do leaders cope with the special challenges and opportunities presented by major disruptions and crises?
- How can we organize effective leadership succession in politics and public administration?
During the course, several guest speakers will share their knowledge and experience with us and you will experience acting as a political leader during a simulation. It is vital that you do the reading and coursework before class, so that literature can be (critically) discussed during the meetings and be present during meetings.
Please note that for non-USG bachelor students the course Introduction public administration and organizational science (USG5520/USG5020) or another introductional course covering the subject of public administration is recommended.