Re-imagining place leadership as social purpose

John Gibney, Alyson Nicholds

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


In this reflective chapter, we seek to stimulate new debate on the social purpose of place leadership. We begin by considering the meaning and relevance of purpose in the formal leadership endeavour, and the likely nature of social purpose in place leadership in the face of multiple meanings. We use this discussion as a basis for exploring what a more emancipatory leadership stance might comprise and pose four awkward questions concerning our imagining of what an emancipatory-oriented place leadership might look like in practice.

Insights are drawn from a range of interdisciplinary literatures, including critical leadership, organizational studies, management learning and sub-national development. In keeping with the need for greater critical reflection, we seek to combine broad theoretical insights with our own reflections on the practice(s) and action(s) of place leadership, from our ongoing empirical observations of leaders in our own research, and our prior professional experiences as economic, regional and community development practitioners.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Handbook On City And Regional Leadership
EditorsMarkku Sotarauta, Andrew Beer
Place of PublicationCheltenham
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781788979689
ISBN (Print)9781788979672
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2021

Publication series

NameResearch Handbooks in Urban Studies
PublisherEdward Elgar


  • Leadership
  • Cities
  • Regions
  • Place leadership
  • social purpose
  • emancipatory intent
  • imagining

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)


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