Understanding communities under stress : towards social leadership

  • Paul Porteous

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis draws on a portfolio of published and soon to be published articles that investigate the potential role of adaptive leadership in helping communities under stress stabilize, recover and adapt to social and economic challenges. It seeks to make at least three significant contributions to academic and practice based understandings of community leadership in times of uncertainty. First, it draws on Heifetz’s foundation work and Williams’s developmental work to build a social leadership approach to adaptive problems that has both diagnostic strength in terms of distinguishing between technical and adaptive issues and applied strength in terms of revealing the type of actions which can be taken to address adaptive challenges. Hence providing a compelling contribution to our theoretical understanding of the adaptive challenge and what needs to be done to achieve social progress. Second, it develops a rigorous experiential learning methodology that allows for both the construction of a robust evidence base on adaptive challenges and the translation of evidence into practical lessons. In so doing the thesis challenges the dominant positivist world view of the social sciences and finds creative solutions to community problems emerging through the active participation, engagement and the reflections of those most affected; the citizenry. Third, it then uses this method to formulate rich, original empirical case studies of communities under stress which stimulate sound knowledge claims to guide future theorisation of research and the conduct of applied work.
    Date of Award2016
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorMark Evans (Supervisor) & Lawrence Pratchett (Supervisor)

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