Complex systems leadership in emergent community projects

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Community Development Journal, 2011, 46 (4), pp. 493 - 510
Issue Date:
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The literature on community development rarely addresses the issue of emergent leadership. Community development is a non-linear process which may arise from the initiatives of people within the community, utilizing their social capital with relatively few economic or human capital resources. Yet to answer the question of how the community is mobilized for development, the issue of leadership must be addressed. An individual or a group must mobilize the community for this purpose. As Barker et al. (in Leadership and Social Movements, Manchester Unity Press, Manchester, 2001) argue, leadership is an essential element of change. In this paper, we explore the issue of emergent leadership in five community case studies. The theoretical lens of complexity theory is used to analyse the ways in which leadership emerges. Seven themes emerged, some of which were consistent with complexity theory. © Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal. 2010 All rights reserved.
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