This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Collective Leadership in the Public Sector: A Descriptive Study of Structure, Roles, and Functions in Twelve North Carolina Collaboratives




Smith, Stephanie

Type of Degree



Political Science


This descriptive study examined collective leadership in twelve North Carolina interorganizational collaboratives. Inquiry into the twelve participant entities focused on organizational structure, leadership roles, and leadership functions. The collaborative domain continues to gain popularity as a venue to address complex social problems. A challenge this trend represents for public leaders is the need to better understand the nature of these collaborative entities in order to effectively participate in the collective leadership activity and manage the effort so that ultimately the collaborative succeeds. Twelve distinct collaboratives were identified and then determined to be appropriate case studies for in-depth examination. Quantitative and qualitative aspects were implemented as independent components during data collection and analysis. Findings from this study include: interorganizational collaboratives need structure; they also need an organizational driver who manages the collaborative and the interaction among members absent traditional control mechanisms associated with hierarchical relationships; collaborative leadership teams tend towards transformational leadership style in the conduct of their role; and a need to include problem solving as part of the leadership activities that are accomplished in these environments.