Who leads? Officer-Councillor relations in local government overview and scrutiny committees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the implications of recent local government reform for political leadership in local authorities. In particular, it investigates the role played by local government officers in shaping and directing the work of politicians serving on overview and scrutiny committees.

Design/methodology/approach – Drawing on data from five case studies of local councils in England and Wales, the paper suggests that recent reform has done little to clarify decision making and leadership in local government.

Findings – The paper suggests that local councillors need to define their roles under the new system in order to reflect the changing requirements of their work.

Originality/value – The paper investigates the impact of the introduction of overview and scrutiny on the relations between councillors and local government officers. Research on leadership in local government is well established, but this literature needs updating in the light of recent reforms. The paper suggests a complex pattern of leadership in local democratic processes, and suggests that more work needs to be done to ensure that local councillors adapt to their new roles.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberN/A
Pages (from-to)218-228
Number of pages11
JournalThe International Journal of Leadership in Public Services
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


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