In Britain the formal institutional framework within which local leadership takes place has been transformed since 1997 - through new arrangements for executive decision-making and the introduction of 'comprehensive performance assessment'. The article looks at how such changes have affected the relationship between political and managerial leaders in local government. Drawing on primary research, the article examines the interaction between the formal changes associated with 'modernization' and existing conventions governing the leader-chief executive relationship. Many 'informal rules' still persist, serving sometimes to reinforce new expectations and sometimes to undermine them. But other informal rules are being modified, and some entirely new rules are being created, as political leaders and chief executives interpret the new landscape and renegotiate their division of labour. Old habits do indeed die hard, but - paradoxically - they may also form the raw material out of which new working rules are fashioned. The research suggests that the most effective reform strategies are those that seek to exploit, rather than frustrate, the efforts of intelligent institutional entrepreneurs on the ground.
- Chief executives