Investigating the Impact of Leadership Development on the Formation of Public Sector Leader Identities.
This dissertation examines the role of leadership development in forming a leader identity in public sector leaders. It investigates the perceived impacts on public sector leaders attending a leadership development program resulting in identity work practices. The main focus of this case study was the leadership development experiences and interpretations of public sector leaders. A leadership development program called Leadership in Practice delivered by New Zealand's Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission to senior public sector leaders was used as a background and context for grounding my investigations. Research participants comprised 16 senior leaders from across the New Zealand public sector. This research was conducted using semi-structured interviews as the qualitative research method. The research data was collected, coded, analysed and thematically grouped using interpretive interactionism. By taking an interpretive approach, I give voice to the experiences and interpretations of these research participants.
Leadership development and its various forms of interpretations in organisational studies continue to command attention about senior officials' leadership performance outcomes in leadership roles across both the public and private sectors. However, empirical research exploring the perceived impacts of this organizationally driven socialisation process on leaders remains sparse across mainstream leadership research, particularly within public sector leadership research.
This study follows the tradition of organisation studies which theorise identity formation as a continuous process of becoming rather than being. It presents a view of leader identity formation as a self-regulated process undertaken by public sector leaders over an extended period. It argues that undertaking leadership development training is vital for public sector leaders; however, it becomes more relevant during specific critical periods throughout their career trajectory across the public sector. I contribute to leadership development and broader leadership research by proposing a new framework called 'leader identity formation framework' comprising four distinct phases – Inception, Initiation, Recognition and Rebellion. In conclusion, I offer a range of theoretical and practical implications for leadership development and leader identity research, which could help inform future research in public sector leadership.