Clara Siboni Lund

Professional Development Leadership in Public Organizations

The purpose of this dissertation is to improve the understanding of leadership oriented towards making organizational goals and professional norms and knowledge come together in frontline organizations. To accomplish this, the dissertation presents a refined conceptualization of professional development leadership (PDL) and study potential antecedents and consequences. Drawing on a combination of theory on professions and leadership as well as interviews with public professionals and managers, the dissertation defines the ambition of PDL as the intent to facilitate a shared understanding of professional quality within the scope of organizational goals and to influence others to realize it in practice. This is reflected in three core behaviors: attempts to 1) align organizational goals and professional norms, 2) develop professional knowledge, 3) activate professional norms and knowledge in practice. Through in-depth qualitative studies, the dissertation illustrates how frontline managers exercise PDL – in general and in turbulent times with shifting parameters, interdependence, and temporal complexity. Based on survey studies applying a new and validated PDL measurement scale, the dissertation demonstrates that PDL is positively associated with professionals’ assessment of the professional quality. PDL is also related to more supportive perceptions of external interventions, particularly for PDL exercised specifically towards the given external intervention. In addition, the dissertation shows that employees perceive higher levels of PDL in organizational units with medium-sized span of control and with managers who have balanced professional and leadership identities. These findings illustrate that public organizations can focus on both organizational and leadership characteristics when considering how to promote PDL.

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