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Reflections on gaps in public sector leadership development theory

Richard T. Marcy (School of Public Administration, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada)

International Journal of Public Leadership

ISSN: 2056-4929

Article publication date: 9 October 2023

Issue publication date: 28 November 2023




This paper explores some of the gaps and contradictions that can often be found in public sector leader development approaches and then examines some of the theoretical assumptions related to these gaps and contradictions. The purpose of this examination is to further identify and define some corresponding gaps within public sector leadership development theory, as well as to encourage future theory development.


Using three common examples of contradictions often found within the leadership literature, gaps within public sector leadership development theory are identified and then linked to relevant components of leader development models found within other disciplines. As they were developed in other contexts, these components were then further reviewed to determine their potential applicability in speaking to the gaps often found in public sector leader development theory.


Proposals are made to address some of the common gaps and contradictions often identified in some public sector leader development approaches, along with the detailing of future research directions for the further development of theory.


This exploratory review highlights some of the central assumptions and gaps in the literature for the purpose of clarifying future directions of research into public sector leadership development theory.



Marcy, R.T. (2023), "Reflections on gaps in public sector leadership development theory", International Journal of Public Leadership, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 261-275.



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