In this section, you will be introduced to three ideas about leadership in boundary-crossing collaborative contexts:
- participants, processes and structure are all ‘leadership media’ that ‘make things happen’ (Huxham and Vangen, 2000)
- integrative leadership involves designing and aligning structures and processes to achieve the shared purposes of collaborating organisations
- leading in inter-organisational contexts is a continual process of negotiation, compromise and trade-offs between competing tensions.
(This course can only offer a brief introduction to these ideas. You can read more in Crosby and Bryson (2005) and Huxham and Vangen (2005) – both are very readable books with a strong practice focus.)
Each of these approaches has something different to offer – each may be appropriate and useful in particular circumstances. Indeed, these approaches may overlap in practice, but they are kept separate here for the sake of offering different ideas you may find useful. A key point to note is that inter-organisational collaboration is characterised by organisational identities – differences in purpose, culture and practice, as well as overlapping purposes – and competing as well as shared interests. Both similarities and differences between collaborating organisations are significant for leadership.