• "You can’t Google everything”- voluntary sector and the leadership of communities of place

      Rees, James; Sancino, Alessandro; Jacklin-Jarvis, Carol; Pagani, Michela (SAGE, 2021-11-27)
      This paper addresses an identified absence in the place leadership literature by exploring how voluntary sector actors contribute to the leadership of place. We attempt to untangle the complex relationship between leadership, place and the voluntary sector, exploring first how understandings of both leadership and place are strengthened by the significant recent advances in the collective and critical approaches to leadership studies. We argue that collective approaches are particularly well suited to interrogating place leadership, and the voluntary sector, both of which are inherently collective endeavours. Drawing on an empirical study of locally-rooted voluntary organisations in a district in the Midlands of England, we produce a thematic analysis which highlights three core themes of the voluntary sector contribution to collective place leadership: their ability to draw on and mobilise local knowledge, their positioning in a web of dense local relationships, and the notion that their intrinsic characteristics are a key source of their distinctiveness and value to the wider ’system’ of place leadership. In drawing these empirical strands together we offer insight into the centrality of the voluntary sector in the constitution of place (a role that has long been undervalued). Further, our findings shed light on the complexity and multiplexity of leading in the collective, and particularly the extent to which the voluntary sector is constrained by wider structures and macro-dynamics.