RSA NETWORK LEADER: Professor Joyce Liddle

ORIGINAL RSA NETWORK MEMBERS: Professors, Markku Sotarauta, Ina Horlings, Andrew Beer, John Shutt, John Diamond, Drs John Gibney and Oto Potluka


Leadership research has been a topic of debate for centuries, though research on the topic of urban and regional leadership research is still in its infancy. There are thousands of definitions of the term leadership, yet still no agreement on what it is or how to research it. The concept encapsulates political, civic and bureaucratic/administrative, but also managerial, technocratic and professional leadership, so considerable challenges arise in exploring different conceptions and meanings in urban and regional studies. It is also difficult to assess relative strengths and weaknesses of different methodological approaches to the study of urban and regional leadership, because of the variety, differences in understanding and categorization in sub-national places. Moreover, it is important to understand what key research questions ought to be addressed, what key insights have been obtained so far with regard to these questions, which theories and methods have been employed to obtain them, and what research challenges lie ahead.



The overall aim of the network was to surface new leadership approaches in/for urban and regional development. The network brings together leadership, place and economic development/planning discourses – and has developed a series of fresh multi-perspective/trans-disciplinary theoretical insights to signpost forward research trajectories for this emerging field of inquiry over the medium term. Consequently, this RSA network incorporates the leadership question (the ‘human touch’) more centrally within the debates around the nature of ‘effective’ urban and regional development. The ‘combinatorial’ learning around leadership theory and practice in the context of urban and regional development is of direct relevance to the planning community and those involved directly and indirectly in the design and delivery of economic development, planning and regeneration policy for cities and regions.



Professor Joyce Liddle, Newcastle Business School, University of Northumbria, Newcastle UK

14th January, 2018