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Serial Adapters? Local Government Chief Officers and the Navigation of Space and Time

Barnett, N.J., Giovannini, A. and GRIGGS, Steven (2024) Serial Adapters? Local Government Chief Officers and the Navigation of Space and Time. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space. ISSN 2399-6544

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Abstract or description

This article analyses the everyday practices of ‘doing’ socio-spatial relations, drawing upon a series of in-depth interviews with local authority chief officers from across the UK. It argues that for chief officers ‘thinking spatially’ is played out in and through the practice of leadership on the move as they navigate the multiple spaces and temporalities that constitute the landscape of local government. Such leadership on the move resonates in part with predominant explanations of boundary spanning in studies of public governance. But importantly, boundary spanning suffers, our evidence suggests, from a temporal deficit, a ‘thin’ account of time which fails to address the constitutive function of boundaries and the complex politics of fluidity and fixity that follow. Articulating a ‘thicker’ ap- proach to time, we argue that chief officers experience everyday socio-spatial relations less as boundary spanners and more as serial adaptors, who persistently reproduce sedimented boundaries and perform different modes of governance as they move from one arena to another. Serial adaptation, we conclude, challenges the potential managerialist bias of boundary spanning, in which the quest for harmonisation and unity masks over the irreducible complex reality of fragmentation and political conflict within which chief officers move.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Local government, boundary spanning, movement, space, time, officers
Faculty: Staffordshire Business School > Business and Marketing
Depositing User: Steven GRIGGS
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2024 16:42
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2024 16:42

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