Local Government Innovation & Redesign

To support local government redesign efforts and recognize the innovative work already underway, the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center has partnered with state associations to create the Local Government Innovation & Redesign Guide and host a yearly Local Government Innovations Awards ceremony.

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Social Change and Leadership for the Common Good

In response to an invitation from the Research Center for Leadership in Action headed by Sonia Ospina, John Bryson and I prepared a reflective essay on social change in the context of the leadership for the common good framework that has been an important focus of our research. We discussed the characteristic strengths and weaknesses of social change organizations and offer open questions for additional research and conversation.

From this analysis, we conclude that a major task for leaders of and in social change organizations is to develop and carry out strategies for fulfilling such organizations’ characteristic strengths and guarding against their characteristic weaknesses. They need to help their organizations find ways to punch above their weight while not burning out staff and volunteers. They need to build infrastructure, but they should also realize that an organization does not have to become bigger and bigger in order to be more effective.
One question that may be especially important at a time when some foundation endowments are shrinking and government funding for social services are dwindling, is: How much can social entrepreneurship fill in for lost resources? Additionally, how can leaders in other sectors be better partners with their counterparts in social change organizations? Finally, how can these organizations build on the initiatives and spirit of public service being championed by the new Obama Administration, even as government budgets are tightening?

Download a PDF copy of the entire paper (11 pages).

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