Systemic Leadership for Local Governance

Tapping the Resource Within

  • Catherine Hobbs

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Catherine Hobbs
    Pages 43-54
  3. Catherine Hobbs
    Pages 55-74
  4. Catherine Hobbs
    Pages 75-105
  5. Catherine Hobbs
    Pages 107-136
  6. Catherine Hobbs
    Pages 137-149
  7. Catherine Hobbs
    Pages 161-172
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 201-204

About this book


“A truly expansive and valuable book that challenges the assumptions and constraints of current leadership thinking... Its focus on integrating theory and practice is particularly helpful in linking its key ideas to current public sector management concerns.”
—Gareth Morgan, Author of Images of Organization

“While other authors have offered general principles of systemic leadership or given readers single approaches, Hobbs is much more ambitious: she brings together diverse, well-tested theoretical, methodological and practical approaches to provide today's leaders with a multifaceted resource that can aid them in thinking systemically. In this respect, her book is a significant advance on previous offerings, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to leaders, aspiring leaders and leadership academics around the world.”
—Gerald Midgley, University of Hull, UK

“This is an impressive and innovative work that draws together the disparate strands of complexity theory, systems thinking and operational research to build an adaptive social learning approach for local governance, helping to shift it from a service-led to systemic-deliberative model. This is essential reading for local government actors, students of local policy and for the public policy generalist.”
—Robert Geyer, Lancaster University, UK

Addressing matters of complexity systemically rather than mechanistically is now an ethical and practical paradigm-changing challenge for public policy. This optimistic book explores how action could be led in a joined-up way, signposting resources to thinking differently. Attention is paid to leading the design of adaptive social learning around what matters, re-connecting with public purpose to enable tailoring towards contemporary needs and constraints. Relevant to postgraduates, academics, local government managers, curious practitioners and the wider public, private and third sectors where there is interest in interpreting leadership via the cognitive capabilities of Systems Science.

Catherine Hobbs is a social scientist who worked in local government for three decades, with practical experience of multi-agency strategies in transport and health. She studied Local Governance and Systems Science at Birmingham and Hull Universities and is a member of the International Advisory Board for the Routledge Handbook of Systems Thinking. Her research interests lie in creating the space to address complexity.


local government beyond the mechanistic paradigm innovation collaboration leadership complexity System Failure thinking differently collaborative learning assumptions wider context participation Vanguard transformation social learning transdisciplinarity social science emergent systemic leadership creative

Authors and affiliations

  • Catherine Hobbs
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Systems StudiesHull University Business SchoolCumbriaUK

Bibliographic information

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