Contested Sensemaking and Everyday Leadership Practices in the Context of UK Parliamentary Select Committees

Stansfield, Annette (2017). Contested Sensemaking and Everyday Leadership Practices in the Context of UK Parliamentary Select Committees. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis is an exploratory study of everyday leadership in UK parliamentary select committees. It is based on a detailed analysis of the parliamentary context for leadership and highlights the distinctive characteristics of a chair’s everyday select committee leadership practices. It examines how a chair addresses the challenges involved in the social processes of mobilising and aligning committee members and stakeholders around the committee’s purpose: making sense of complex and contentious public policy dilemmas. While still largely bound by parliamentary routines and tradition, select committees offer chairs increasing opportunities for flexibility, influence and leadership. Based on privileged research access to the workings of select committees, this is a real-time embedded comparative case study of similarities and differences in the enactment of leadership across two parallel contemporaneous inquiries within the same committee. It highlights the significance of sensemaking and sensegiving to leadership while proposing that the politicised context accentuates how challenge and conflict are integral to the daily enactment of leadership, which is often more volatile and much harder work than the literature suggests. It builds on existing leadership theory to contribute a novel conception of leadership, based on an adaptive combination of sensegiving, praxis and challenge in this context, with potentially wider application.

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  • Item ORO ID
  • 48449
  • Item Type
  • PhD Thesis
  • Extra Information
  • The full text of this thesis is subject to a 25 year embargo in line with confidential government documentation. This restriction has been agreed with the University Research Degrees Committee.
  • Keywords
  • parliamentary practice; committees; leadership; behaviour modification; political leadership
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Faculty of Business and Law (FBL)
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2016 The Author
  • Depositing User
  • Annette Stansfield