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Trust-culture leadership in local public administrators’ work

Matthew R. Fairholm (Department of Political Science, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, South Dakota, USA)
Michael K. Dzordzormenyoh (Department of Political Science, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, South Dakota, USA)
Godlove A. Binda (Department of Political Science, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, South Dakota, USA)

International Journal of Public Leadership

ISSN: 2056-4929

Article publication date: 30 August 2018

Issue publication date: 19 October 2018

618

Abstract

Purpose

Trust and culture are common themes in leadership literature and research. The purpose of this paper is it to describe an emergent model of trust-culture leadership from the comments of local government managers in the USA. The environment of local government requires a level of trust between government and citizens. Comments from local government managers suggest trust is also a component of leading public organizations. The elements of the model culled from practical insights serve to both verify and elucidate much of what is found in leadership theory in a local government context.

Design/methodology/approach

This research is based on qualitative interviews of practicing local government managers coupled with an analysis of essays on leadership also written by local government managers.

Findings

The research indicates eight elements of a model divided into three categories (descriptions of leadership in practice, tools and behaviors, and approaches to followers) that help to both describe and perhaps prescribe the work of trust-culture leadership in a local government context.

Originality/value

While some of what is summarized below is found in leadership literature already, the fact that these elements of leadership are intuitive to local government managers and internalized in their practice is significant. Linking both trust and culture in leadership literature is limited, and linking them both to the practical insights of public managers is even more unique. The findings verify that public leaders at the local level actually engage in leadership of a particular sort, that of trust-culture leadership. It highlights the priority of trust in local government administration. The elements of the model serve to offer public managers specific things to focus on to promote trust-culture leadership and suggest to public leadership scholars specific avenues for further investigation.

Keywords

Citation

Fairholm, M.R., Dzordzormenyoh, M.K. and Binda, G.A. (2018), "Trust-culture leadership in local public administrators’ work", International Journal of Public Leadership, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 260-273. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPL-06-2018-0031

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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