Introduction: Local Government Reform and a Journey to the Empty Quarter

  • Catherine HobbsEmail author


The empty quarter. Hobbs immediately leads the reader to an unusual starting point. After outlining the rapid sequence of local government reforms imposed over several decades, Hobbs maintains that effective reform lies beyond the mechanistic paradigm. The abiding capacity-building themes of innovation and learning, collaboration and leadership, including oft-repeated barriers to progress, suggest that a variety of thinking skills is needed to address these complex challenges. Although a variety of approaches could help to address complexity (supply), practitioners (demand) are unaware of this variety, leading to a supply/demand dysfunction. A fundamental dilemma is that the usual disciplinary modes of thinking and working will not help us overcome these challenges. The chapter concludes with ‘a journey to the empty quarter’, explaining the form of thinking which is lacking.


Local government Beyond the mechanistic paradigm Innovation Learning Collaboration Leadership Complexity 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Systems StudiesHull University Business SchoolCumbriaUK

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