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Exploring the role of leadership in territorial strategies for competitiveness

José Luis Larrea (Orkestra and Deusto Business School, San Sebastián, Spain)
Mari Jose Aranguren (Orkestra and Deusto Business School, San Sebastián, Spain)
Jesús M. Valdaliso (Department of Economic History and Institutions, University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, Spain)

Competitiveness Review

ISSN: 1059-5422

Article publication date: 17 July 2017




The purpose of this paper is to focus on the role of leadership in the design and implementation of territorial strategies for competitiveness. It attempts to address two research questions: first, how leadership is influenced by theory and the other way around, how theory is transformed through leadership; and second, what characteristics of leadership are most important to successfully implement territorial strategies.


The paper is based on a case study of the life experience of an individual who has worked in positions of high responsibility in the government, the private sector and at the university. It is based on first-person action research combined with the contrast of two other co-authors.


Three findings may be highlighted from this case study. First, the importance of having leaders learning from their own process of leadership and co-evolving with the need for transformation which requires territorial strategies at every moment. Second, the necessity of having leaders whose objectives are aligned with those of the territory. Third, that individual leadership must have three characteristics to implement successfully territorial strategies: a balance between the individual and the collective objectives, a systemic vision and a consciousness of one’s own role in the system and a multi-level dimension.


Although territorial strategies are becoming increasingly popular both in the academia and in the policy arena, one of their critical elements, the role of individuals and that of leadership in general have not been addressed neither by scholars nor by practitioners. This paper attempts to explore the role of leadership through a case study based on the life experience of an outstanding individual in one of the regions with the longest tradition on territorial strategies for competitiveness.



Larrea, J.L., Aranguren, M.J. and Valdaliso, J.M. (2017), "Exploring the role of leadership in territorial strategies for competitiveness", Competitiveness Review, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 390-409.



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