Understanding collaborative governance and leadership

PhD Thesis

Davey, R. 2019. Understanding collaborative governance and leadership. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University The Business School
AuthorsDavey, R.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy

Purpose: to critically examine the strategic role of ‘collaboration’ in enabling good governance and effective leadership in the UK third sector. In order to achieve this research aim/purpose, the following research question was constructed: RQ – What are the essential characteristics of collaborative governance and leadership effectiveness for UK third sector organisations? As this research progressed, the RQ became supported by two interconnected propositions, notably: Proposition 1 – collaborative thinking is now essential for (intra-and-inter) organisational governance within the UK third sector, and; Proposition 2 – third sector leaders should recognise the need to cooperate further for improved governance and shared leadership effectiveness.

Design/methodology/approach: the research question was investigated using an interpretive-qualitative research design and methodology. The research design involved three interlinked field-work stages. Stage 1 consisted of a three-hour exploratory focus group discussion, involving eight leading UK third sector organisations, hosted at Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU). Stage 2 followed-up via eleven separate (face-to-face) semi-structured interviews, involving senior third sector leader-managers in the (UK) South East. These interviews helped to develop key thesis ideas, linking collaborative governance and leadership approaches with the two supporting propositions (outlined above). Stage 3 finished off by comparing two organisational case studies, thus helping to triangulate initial interpretations and propositional ideas within different third sector research settings. The first third sector organisational case study involved four semi-structured interviews with social enterprise stakeholders (i.e. both senior leaders and employees from the same social enterprise); the second included five telephone interviews with trustees from the same volunteer run charity.

Findings/Discussion: a new conceptual grid/framework was developed, depicting the complexities involved in realising collaborative governance and shared leadership strategies in the UK third sector. Specifically, the grid conceptualises 4 different types/categories of third sector organisation, relative to their governance circumstances and leadership style, ranging from: (a) new entrants (novices); (b) founders syndrome (individualised identity); (c) hybridised (multi-agency), and; (d) quasi-autonomous (reformed public sector/traditional). A critique of each quadrant was developed, along with analyses of emerging collaborative governance and leadership themes. Whilst there is an abundance of standalone governance and leadership research pertaining the third sector, this PhD study contributes by investigating their theoretical interdependence.

Originality/Value: this PhD thesis contributes to the existing body of third sector leadership and management knowledge by contributing fresh insight into the complexities of (intra-and-inter) organisational governance and leadership effectiveness. In particular, the relatively unexplored, yet combined terrains of good governance, collaborative governance and shared leadership offers interesting lenses for theoretical discussion(s) among UK third sector scholars, policy-makers and practitioners.

KeywordsGovernance; Leadership; Management knowledge; Collaboration; Cooperation; Founder's syndrome; Third sector; Non-profit
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Publication process dates
Deposited07 Oct 2020
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