Politics and the
A three-country study which investigates the politics and political
skills in the work of public sector managers has been launched in Australia.
Three of the report's authors after the
launch (L-R Sophie Yates, John Alford
and, Jean Hartley).
The study, Leading with Political Astuteness: A Study of Public Managers in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, was organised by the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) and involved researchers from the School, the Open University and RMIT University.
Combining quantitative survey data from more than 1,000 middle and senior public managers, as well as qualitative data from 42 in-depth interviews, the study sheds light on how managers understand politics in their work; how they rate their own and their colleagues’ political skills; how they use their political skills and how these skills were developed.
The report also sets out recommendations to improve the development of managers’ political astuteness at the level of the individual, the organisation, and the professional body/training provider.
It states that managers often tend to find the subject of politics to be problematic.
“If their colleagues engage in political behaviour, they may see this as distorting rational decision-making processes or undermining organisational harmony,” the report says.
“The pervasiveness of politics means that dealing with these challenges puts a premium on political astuteness (also called political ‘savvy’ or ‘nous’ or having political antennae).”
The report maintains that managers need to be able to read other people’s behaviour, understand the dynamics of power, and frame decisions and strategies that take political factors into account.
However, in the past there had been little support for managers or interest in the subject.
Launching the study, Secretary of the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet, Andrew Tongue said the study was significant in reconsidering Public Service capability frameworks, and increasing the prominence of political astuteness skills in the recognised skill set for public sector leaders.
The report was written by Professor Jean Hartley, Professor John Alford, Professor Owen Hughes, and Sophie Yates and was supported by the United Kingdom Chartered Management Institute.
To read the Executive Summary and full report go to this PS News link.
Edition 377, 3 September 2013