Den agile udfordring: Offentlig ledelse i en omskiftelig verden

Jesper Hammerich Lux

Student thesis: Master executive thesis


Society is increasingly characterized by rapid changes, short planning horizon, complexity, paradoxes and interdependence. The accelerating pace of technological development and the global network society contributes to this development. How do the public managers understand this leadership challenge, and how do they react? Do the challenges call for specific leadership traits and skills? What recommendations can be given? This master thesis explores how digitization challenges the leadership traits and skills in the public sector, with special regards to the Ministry of Employment. Which recommendations can be given to leadership development and evaluation in regards to the findings? Using qualitative research methodology from a philosophical hermeneutical standpoint, this thesis is designed to further our understanding of what is here called “the agile challenge” for public managers. Data for the thesis were collected through interviews, documents, own experiences and observations, conducted on top and middle management levels. Theories were selected in order to analyse the data and further the understanding of the subject in various perspectives: Vertical agility, horisontal agility, mental agility, strategic agility and network management. Theories used for this purpose included Public Sector Leadership Pipeline by Dahl & Molly-Søholm, Competing Values Leadership by Cameron et al., Leadership Agility by Joiner & Josephs, Fast Strategy by Doz & Kosonen and Managing Uncertainties in Networks by Koppenjan & Klijn. The thesis concludes that the agile challenge is percieved differently at different management levels, corresponding to the different roles and obligations at the specific management levels. For top managers the challenge is to be always on, and always in tune with the external environment, and to understand the digital changes in core business, and launch empowerment strategies. The middle managers are challenged by a pressure on their mental ability to manage diverse and complex problems, and to be able to think from an outside-in perspective on their services. On both management levels the sector-specific, implementation-focused, high-speed bureaucracies lean towards more specific collaboration- and empowerment strategies. The thesis concludes, that the Ministry of Employment today only partially has set up strategies that deal with developing agile leadership competencies and strategic agility, and that this work should be furthered in a systematic and conscious way, in order to deal properly with the agile challenge to public management.

EducationsMaster of Public Governance, (Executive Master Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages138