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Professional Development Leadership in Public Organizations: A Refined Conceptualization

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Professional development leadership (PDL) can potentially align organizational goals and professional norms, thereby increasing the performance of professional employees in public organizations. Public management research has largely overlooked this type of leadership behavior, however, which may be due to the fact that it remains conceptually under-developed. This article presents a refined conceptualization of PDL based on theorizing and the abductive analysis of 31 interviews with managers and professionals in public organizations. The ambition of PDL is to facilitate a shared understanding of professional quality within the scope of organizational goals and to influence others to realize this understanding in practice. Core behaviors are attempts to create alignment between organizational goals and professional norms, to develop professional knowledge, and to activate professional knowledge and norms in practice. The conceptualization comprises a steppingstone for systematic research on PDL, and public managers may find inspiration as to how they can address professional norms and knowledge in their leadership practice.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPublic Personnel Management
Pages (from-to)516-537
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

    Research areas

  • professional development leadership, professional knowledge, professional norms, professional quality, public leadership

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