Exploring the Relationship Between Leadership, Organisational Structure and Place Management

Evidence and Decision Making

Evidence based decision making has been defined as a situation in which a decision was made that followed directly from the evidence.  This has been contrasted with decision-based evidence making which involves marshalling facts and their analysis in an attempt validate a decision that has already been made within an organisation (Tingling & Brydon, 2010) (Buchanan & Huczynski, 2017)

Within any organisation decisions are made at a personal, group and organisational level

At a personal-level, decisions are often influenced by the fact that memory is fallible. Understanding what is ‘real’ versus ‘perceived’ memory over time is a dilemma for all oral historians. (Britten, 2014)

At a group levels, effective group decision making is “characterized by a full use of members’ resources, an efficient use of time, and a high-quality outcome” (Coats & Thompson, 2017). Groups can demonstrate deficiencies in process or roadblocks which can hinder effectiveness of the group as a whole or elements of that group. For example, group members may withhold critical input because they do not want to interrupt another person i.e., “production blocking” which has been identified as an important cause of productivity loss in brainstorming groups (Nijstada, et al., 2003).  Group members may feel apprehensive about being evaluated by other group members, or have been interrupted by another person such as a domineering teammate, or are prone to social loafing which is “the tendency for individuals to expend less effort when working collectively than when working individually” and leads to larger groups being less efficient (Karau & Williams, 1993). Furthermore, members may ignore teammates’ input because they are unwilling to consider alternative viewpoints or because they are distracted as they closely monitor the conversational flow for opportunities to state their own ideas. Collectively, these and other barriers can cause groups to evaluate solutions before all members have provided input or exhausted their supply of ideas and suggestions. (Coats & Thompson, 2017).

Group decision-making techniques have been designed to increase effectiveness by diminishing barriers and roadblocks such as those described earlier. Five of the most commonly cited group decision-making techniques are brainstorming (Kramer, et al., 1997), the nominal group technique – where group members work independently and nonredundant ideas pooled by a moderator (Kramer, et al., 1997) the Delphi technique – using written questionnaires to eliminate the influence of personal relationships and committees being dominated by strong personalities, the stepladder technique, and TOPSIS. These techniques vary in the manner in which they structure group problem solving. They also differ according to the particular process deficiencies they aim to minimize.

Interestingly while the decision to employ groups instead of an individual for dealing with a particular problem typically stems from the belief that a solution produced by a group of individuals working together will be superior to the solution produced by an average individual there are a number of studies that indicate that usually group performance has been found to be inferior to the performance of the best individual (Burleson, et al., 1984) (Libby & K.T. & Zimmer, 1987)

The Objective and Task method

Developed initially to help determine budgets for advertising spend, especially in new markets, The “objective-and-task” method suggests to develop budgets by (1) defining objectives as specifically as possible, (2) determining the tasks that must be performed to achieve these objectives, and (3) estimating the costs of performing these tasks. The sum of these costs is the proposed budget this compares with the “arbitrary” approach where often budget would be set “by ear” first with the hope that it would cover the costs incurred by the objective. (Barnes, et al., 1982)

Forms of Governance within placemaking and the possible impacts of differing approaches to governance and organisational structure

Place management has been described as a “rather haphazard affair” (Parker, 2011). In the UK, there have been a number of neoliberal responses to rising expectations and a lack of engagement in government.  A high number of towns and cities in the UK operate under some sort of place management partnership scheme. These schemes are nearly always a partnership between the public sector and the private sector and exist to achieve economic benefits – demonstrating neoliberal practice and wider trends discussed in the literature (Zapata & Hall, 2012) (Bowden & Liddle, 2017).  The Governance of these place management organisations is often highly politicised (Ntounis, 2018) (Vuignier, 2017) and though epistemological evidence would demonstrate that local authorities working alone are limited in their capacity to influence the fortunes of their high streets and town centres (Peel & Parker, 2017) and reflect the reality which is that no single organisation is solely responsible for place making but that the “function is a complex matrix” (Peel & Lloyd, 2008) Nevertheless differing views of governance  can cause friction, particularly with local authorities which have historically seen themselves as leading on setting placemaking strategies (Peel, 2016) but are increasingly having much of the local agenda driven by other agencies such as Business Improvement Districts and similar.  Grint, suggests that only if local leaders are prepared to “ignore, avoid or subvert central diktats”, are we likely to make much progress on the leadership of place. (Grint, 2010) if this is a truism it will have ad naturam impact on perception, methodology and practice of governance

Leadership within place – organisations and individuals Power and hierarchy

Human interaction is key to the effectiveness of leadership within place and its consequential development of strategies and relationships (Ntounis, 2018). For the purpose of the following analysis it will be useful for practical purposes, at least in part, to take a teleological approach to examining the nature of the critical incident examining the structure of the narrative of the evidence looking into the actors, goals and proximal rather than distal causation. For the purpose of this examination the definition of teleology will be defined as the process of heading towards an end (Katsikis & Kyrgidou, 2009).  There will be an examination of the critical incident and leadership in relation to theories relating to leadership traits (Kirkpatrick & Lock, 1991) (Prentice, et al., 2019), behaviour of leaders, continency and situational theories examining how context influences leadership (Phaneuf, et al., 2016),  the sources of  a leaders power and influence and transformational-transactional leadership theory idealized influence i.e. charisma,  “inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration” (Phaneuf, et al., 2016)

A number of sources are cited indicating effective leaders must also ensure that organizations adapt to the external environment and use resources efficiently (Antonakis & House, 2002) (Mumford, 2006) indicating that effective organizational leadership is not just about exercising influence on an interpersonal level but depends on leader expertise and on the formulation and implementation of solutions to complex social and task-oriented problems (Mumford, 2000). The literature indicates that effective leaders must, identify strategic and tactical goals while monitoring team outcomes and the environment (Morgeson, et al., 2010). In this sense leaders are “instrumental” for organizational effectiveness. Antonakis and House (Antonakis & House, 2002) termed this type of leadership, “instrumental leadership” a form of expert-based power.

Analysis of different approaches to place management and leadership

“A large variety of research work indicates there is consensus that entrepreneurship is a vital element of social, organizational and individual success” (Katsikis & Kyrgidou, 2009) (Antoncic & Hisrich, 2003) (Davidsson, 2005)

The last two decades have seen a major shift in the leadership paradigm and this has been widely discussed across the mainstream leadership literature (Cullen and Yammarino 2014; Fitzsimons et al., 2011; Harris, 2008 Martin et al., 2015; Spillane, 2006). Cullen and Yammarino (2014, p.1) have seen the above transition from an orthodox and ‘heroic’ leadership towards collective forms of leadership as “a paradigm shift” within the field of leadership. Such paradigm shift in the field of leadership is one that recognises that “teams, organizations, coalitions, communities, networks, systems, and other collectives carry out leadership functions through a collective social process” (Cullen and Yammarino, 2014, p. 1)

Peter Tingling and Michael Brydon (2010) describe evidence-based decision making as a situation in which a decision was made that followed directly from the evidence They contrasted it with decision-based evidence making which involved marshalling facts and analysis to support a decision that had already been made elsewhere in the organization. They found that managers, when making a decision, used evidence in three different ways: Tingling and Brydon (2010) p.73 MIT Sloan Management review/Massachusetts Institute of Technology

In other instances, social pressure within the group may lead to conformity behaviors, which in turn tend to favor acceptance and silence-disagreement (Maier, 1967). Janis (1982) found that cohesive groups often have more concerns for unanimity than they do for evaluating different courses of action.

Critical Incident Technique (CIT) analysis

Critical Incident Technique (CIT) analysis was initially developed during the second world war by the US Army Air Force to help choose and categorise air crews and utilised the methodology described by one of its developers J.C Flanagan in 1954 (Flanagan, 1954) but has subsequently found much wider use (Holloway & Schwartz, 2014) forming the basis of a widely used research method (Cooper & Cary, 1991) (Britten, 2014) becoming an investigative instrument enabling researchers to analyse critical incidents based on qualitative evidence and study the perception of effects of problems on workgroups. As described by Flanagan and elsewhere in the literature CIT can be used to examine successes and failures of individuals or organizations in specific situations, reviewing the efficacy of action or inaction, studying factors beneficial and detrimental, the collation of functional or behavioural descriptions of events or problems, or determining characteristics that are critical to important aspects of an activity or event (Butterfield, 2005) (Flanagan, 1954)

The methodology for CIT research as outlined by Flanagan (Flanagan, 1954) included 5 parts which included firstly determining the general aims of the activity being studied for example the topic of this paper – analysing what CIT analysis can bring to an understanding of governance, leadership, organisational structure  and place management.   Flanagan emphasised that there should be flexibility particularly for the method of data collection (Flanagan, 1954).  Generally, CIT represents a set of procedures for systematically identifying behaviours that contribute to the success or failure of individuals or organizations in specific situation. In 2009, Butterfield et al. added nine steps for the purposes of assessing the credibility of the outcomes of CIT (Butterfield, et al., 2009). These new additions have become known as the Enhanced Critical Incident Technique (ECIT). Subsequent literature has examined and postulated different methodologies  (Britten, 2014) (Butterfield, 2005). 

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