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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Values in Leadership: Approaches of Victorian Local Government Managers

This thesis argues that local government management continues to be 'captured' by the dominant ideology of neoliberalism. The neoliberal theory of the market still appears to dominate language and thinking within local government, and this may not be in the best interests of either local government organisations or the communities they serve. The research aims to take account of the rich unspoken, unconscious meanings in human dialogue and interaction. In order to gain a deeper understanding of the breadth of experience in being a local government CEO, the researcher conducted face-to-face semi-structured interviews with 18 (23 per cent) of Victorian (Australian) local government CEOs. Then the researcher observed one local government CEO at her workplace, over a period of six months. The thesis draws on socio-analytic theory to look beyond currently popular management theories, with their emphases on rationality and instrumentality, to examine the beliefs and motives local government CEOs bring to their work. It concludes that local government is not a non-profit variant of private enterprise and that the importation of business language and tools has damaged local governments service role. It argues for a renewal of commitment to the values of service and to leadership that encompasses both rational and non-rational aspects of managing people.