Rod Rhodes Wins ECPR Lifetime Achievement Award

The recipient of the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award was R.A.W Rhodes, Professor of Government (Research) at the University of Southampton and at Griffith University and Emeritus Professor of Politics at the University of Newcastle. The Jury was composed of Rudy Andeweg, Martin Bull, Manuel Sanchez de Dios and Jonas Tallberg, Chaired by Simona Piattoni.

14730502454_baa16e0620_zThe Jury noted that it was impressed with Professor Rhodes’ ‘exceptional record in the many areas of the profession: from teaching and publishing to advising and disseminating.’ Going on to say that ‘Few have taught in so many universities, visited at least as many research institutions, collaborated in so many research projects on both sides of the globe and produced so many veritably ‘paradigm-shifting’ authored and edited volumes. The impact of [his] work on the discipline of political science is easily ‘measured’ both by the by now conventional bibliographic indicators and, more impressionistically but equally clearly, by the impact on the work of many of us.’

Professor Rhodes is life Vice-President and former Chair and President of the Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom; a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia; and an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences (UK). He has also been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, editor of Public Administration from 1986 to 2011, and Treasurer of the Australian Political Studies Association, 1994–2011.

The Prize will be presented to Professor Rhodes at the General Conference in Montreal on 27th August 2015.

So You Want to Be Chief of Staff to the Australian Prime Minister? Here’s How

DipticBy R.A.W. Rhodes, Professor of Government at the University of Southampton and Griffith University (Personal website, Academia.eduGoogle Scholar). You can read more posts by R.A.W. Rhodes here.


 

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[The Gatekeepers is a new book by R.A.W. Rhodes and Anne Tiernan. Below, Rhodes shares with us a brief summary of this new work. – Editor.]

So, you want to be the Chief of Staff to the Australian Prime Minister. This book provides invaluable lessons to foster that ambition.

Australian prime ministers need help to manage the many challenges and dependencies of political leadership. Their Chief of Staff provides critical support to both the person and the office of prime minister. The job is to help prime ministers to cope with the endless pressure of events and surviving to win the next election. It is about making sure the urgent doesn’t crowd out the important while pursuing the Holy Grail of coordination. It is about winning the battle for support in cabinet, caucus and country.

This book explores the work of the Chief of Staff from the perspective of those who have done the job under governments from Fraser to Rudd. It identifies eight lessons that key individuals who have held the Chief of Staff position wanted to pass on to their successors. The lessons are not rocket science but that doesn’t make the job easy. The Chief of Staff must adjust to the personalities, preferences and working styles of the prime minister. They must navigate the murky networks and pressures of life at the centre of government. As gatekeepers and shock absorbers, the Chiefs of Staff take the blame for their prime ministers, but it is not necessarily their fault.

This important book offers unparalleled insights into how things really work at the centre of Australia’s central governing networks from the perspective of those who have been there. It is based on unique access to former Chiefs of Staff as well as interviews with the leading participants of the day. It draws together and systematises the Chiefs of Staff views about what to do and what not to do, about how to do it and how not to do it, and does so in their own words.

You can buy the book here.

Puzzling About Political Leadership – Rhodes and t’ Hart

By R.A.W. Rhodes, Professor of Government at the University of Southampton and Griffith University (Personal website, Academia.eduGoogle Scholar). You can read more posts by R.A.W. Rhodes here.


 

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Since Machiavelli, political leadership has been seen as the exercise of practical wisdom. We can gain insights through direct personal experience and sustained reflection. The core intangibles of leadership – empathy, intuition, creativity, courage, morality, judgement – are largely beyond the grasp of ‘scientific’ inquiry. Understanding leadership comes from living it: being led, living with and advising leaders, doing one’s own leading.

In sharp contrast, a ‘science of leadership’ has sprung up in the latter half of the twentieth century. Thousands of academics now make a living treating leadership as they would any other topic in the social sciences, and political leadership is no exception. These scholars treat it as an object of study, which can be picked apart and put together. Their papers fill journals, handbooks, conference programs and lecture theatres. Some work in the real world of political leadership as consultants and advisers, often well paid. This buzzing, blooming confusion would not persist if such knowledge did not help in grasping at least some of the puzzles that leaders face and leadership poses. And there are puzzles aplenty.

The first puzzle is whether we are looking at the people we call leaders, or at the process we call leadership? Leader-centred analysis has proved hugely popular but many now prefer to understand political leadership as a two-way street; an interaction between leaders and followers, leaders and media, leaders and mass publics.

The second puzzle is whether we are studying democrats or dictators. Democracy needs good leadership yet the idea of leadership potentially conflicts with democracy’s egalitarian ethos. Political leaders holding office in democratic societies live in a complex moral universe. Other heads of government gained power by undemocratic means. They sometimes govern by fear, intimidation and blackmail. Is that leadership? However, even such ‘leaders’ may aim for widely shared and morally acceptable goals and rule with the tacit consent of most of the population. Understanding leadership requires us to take in all its shades of grey: leading and following, heroes and villains, the capable and the inept, winners and losers.

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The third puzzle ponders whether political leadership matters. Leaders use their political platforms to inject words, ideas, ambitions and emotions into the public arena, to shape public policies and transform communities and countries. But when do they make a difference? What stops them from being a force in society? Or are political leaders a product of their societies? Finding out who gets to lead can teach us much, not just about those leaders, but about the societies in which they work. So, we ask who becomes a political leader, how and why? What explains their rise and fall?

The fourth puzzle explores the relative importance of their personal characteristics and behaviour compared to the context in which they work. Sometimes political leaders are frail humans afloat on a sea of storms and sometimes they survive at the helm when few thought that possible. They achieve policy reforms and social changes against the odds, and the inherited wisdom perishes. How do political leaders escape the dead hand of history?

The fifth puzzle wonders if the success of leaders stems from their special qualities or traits – the so-called ‘great man’ theory of leadership. However, we have to entertain the possibility that these allegedly ‘great’ leaders might have been just plain lucky; that is they get what they want without trying. They are ‘systematically lucky’.

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The sixth puzzle is about success and failure. How do we know when a political leader has been successful? The temptation is always to credit their success to their special qualities, but no public leader ever worked alone. Behind every ‘great’ leader are indispensable collaborators, advisers, mentors, and coalitions; the building blocks of the leader’s achievements.

Political leadership is both art and profession. Political leaders gain office promising to solve problems but more often than not they are defeated by our puzzles. There is no unified theory of leadership to guide them. There are too many definitions, and too many theories in too many disciplines. We do not agree on what leadership is, or how to study it, or even why we study it. The subject is not just beset by dichotomies; it is also multifaceted, and essentially contested. Leaders are beset by contingency and complexity, which is why so many leaders’ careers end in disappointment.

R. A. W. Rhodes is Professor of Government at both the University of Southampton (UK); and Griffith University (Brisbane, Australia). He is the author or editor of some 35 books including recently Lessons of Governing. A Profile of Prime Ministers’ Chiefs of Staff (with Anne Tiernan, Melbourne University Press 2014); and Everyday Life in British Government (Oxford University Press 2011).

Paul ‘t Hart is Professor of Public Administration at the Utrecht School of Governance; associate Dean at The Netherlands School of Government in The Hague; and a core faculty member at the Australia New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG). He is the author or editor of some 35 books including recently Understanding Public Leadership (Palgrave Macmillan 2014); and Prime Ministerial Leadership: Power, Parties and Performance (co-edited with James Walter and Paul Strangio (Oxford University Press, 2013).

Professor Rod Rhodes awarded #PSA2014 Special Recognition Award

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Professor Rod Rhodes of the Department of Politics & International Relations, University of Southampton, has been awarded a Special Recognition Award by the UK Political Studies Association. The award was the unanimous choice of a jury of distinguished academics and journalists who met recently at Westminster. The jurors agreed that Rod’s contribution to political science has been outstanding and increased enormously understanding of how government works and done much to raise the esteem of the discipline. The award was presented by Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty (The National Council for Civil Liberties) at the recent Political Studies Association Annual Conference in Manchester.

You can read more about Rod’s work on his website.