Place leadership, governance and power

Markku Sotarauta 1
  • 1 School of Management, University of Tampere, Finland


There is an emerging consensus that place leadership is the missing piece in the local and regional development puzzle. In this context, leadership is a hidden form of agency, shadowed by such visible forms of influence as structures and formal institutions, as well as development programs and plans. This article argues that one of the most central issues in a study of place leadership is to analyse the relationships between governance, power and place leadership. The governance arrangements are undoubtedly important, as they dictate the kind of resources and positions provided to regional development work, and thus they also enable, as well as constrain, the many efforts of regional champions to exercise power in complex development processes. It is argued here that revealing how place leadership is enacted in different places and times would allow us to flesh out novel aspects about the eternal questions of how and why some places are able to adapt strategically to ever-changing social, economic and environmental circumstances while others fail to do so. Additionally, deeper investigations of place leadership would hopefully allow us to provide policymakers and practitioners with added insight on the ways to make regional development policies and practices not only more strategic but also effective. This paper elaborates the conceptual link between place leadership, governance and power.

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