Building leadership capacity for social inclusion: three case studies
thesisposted on 29.03.2022, 03:12 by Glen Brian Powell
Competing interests and power differentials pose a challenge for the social inclusion of marginalised groups in society. To address this challenge, this thesis investigates the potential contribution of leadership development across multiple levels. To this end, it adopts mixed qualitative and quantitative methods and data collected from multiple case studies of not-for-profit organisations engaged in the pursuit of social inclusion in Australia. The qualitative aspect of this study comprises 25 in-depth semi-structured interviews in two migrant settlement services agencies and 21 interviews in four congregations and denominational structures of the Uniting Church, Australia’s third largest Christian denomination. It also draws on relevant organisational and Government publications and reports. The qualitative study is supplemented with an exploratory meso-level quantitative study of approaches to leadership development in Protestant churches, utilising the 2011 National Church Life Survey dataset of 2214 Protestant congregations with aggregated data from 185,557 individual churchattenders. The empirical data suggests that in not-for-profit settings, both leadership development and social inclusion involve similar individual, relational, and collective processes, and build various forms of capital that enhance power and efficacy. This thesis addresses social inclusion and leadership development together, thereby overcoming the lack of scholarly attention to the relationship between the two. Social capital theory is used as a conceptual bridge between the two phenomena, which facilitates consideration of the multilevel dynamics and power differentials that have grown alongside the influence of neoliberalism on Australia’s civil society and body politic. In addition, to enable a more holistic approach to leadership development and social inclusion, this study extends on existing understandings of leader and leadership development, phenomena which have previously been depicted in terms of human capital and social capital respectively. This ‘capitals’ perspective is extended to include cultural capital. This then enables attention to the development of relational leadership across multiple levels. By elaborating and applying a new conceptual framework referred to as Inclusive Relational Leadership Development (IRLD), the study explores how individual agents and organisations can collaborate to build meso-level organisational leadership capacity that can advance social inclusion.