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Palgrave Macmillan

Systemic Leadership for Local Governance

Tapping the Resource Within

  • Book
  • © 2019


  • Breaks the mould by accepting and working with complexity rather than trying to impose control
  • Explores the prospect of social learning for complexity in a highly practical way by looking at leadership through the lens of the Systems Sciences
  • Supports collective sensemaking for the common good at the level of local governance (rather than the more usual predictive approach)

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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.

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Table of contents (9 chapters)

Authors and Affiliations

  • Centre for Systems Studies, Hull University Business School, Cumbria, UK

    Catherine Hobbs

About the author

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.

Bibliographic Information

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