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Michael Gove, Charismatic Leadership and the Radical Reorganisation of English School Sport

European Public Leadership in Crisis?

ISBN: 978-1-78350-901-0, eISBN: 978-1-78350-902-7

Publication date: 18 October 2014



This paper analyses the radical reorganisation of English school sport by the coalition government, a move that led to the emergence of a significant discourse of dissatisfaction amongst school sport advocacy coalition groups.


This paper utilises Sabatier’s (Sabatier & Jenkins-Smith, 1999) Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) to identify how the coalition government’s decision to abolish the successful Physical Education School Sport and Club Links (PESSCL) programme has specifically weakened the power of formerly influential advocacy coalitions within the school sport arena. Weber’s (1947) conceptualisation of charisma, in particular, the concept of charismatic rhetoric, is used to explain how these historically extensive policy changes were communicated by the coalition government, and particularly, by Michael Gove, the Secretary of State.


Locating the government’s rhetoric within the charismatic literature allowed the exploration of how a disempowerment of advocacy coalition groups and centralisation of power towards the state might have been partly achieved via the use of charismatic rhetoric (Weber, 1947).


Javidan and Waldman (2003) identified a lack of rigorous empirical study of the role of charismatic leadership and its consequences in public sector leadership, a critique that has been addressed by this paper.



Zehndorfer, E. and Mackintosh, C. (2014), "Michael Gove, Charismatic Leadership and the Radical Reorganisation of English School Sport", European Public Leadership in Crisis? (Critical Perspectives on International Public Sector Management, Vol. 3), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 147-163.



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