The complex role of district governors in Turkey: a sui generis case of public leadership

Akca, Saban (2018). The complex role of district governors in Turkey: a sui generis case of public leadership. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis focuses on the challenge within public leadership of reconciling the sometimes conflicting interests of the national and local state. District Governors in Turkey are the agents of the central state within their districts but they also exercise an important role as local civic leaders for the communities over which they have jurisdiction. This thesis examines the ways in which those competing governance and leadership responsibilities are balanced out between one another. Additionally, the thesis explores the impacts upon the leadership practices of district governors of, on the one hand, personal qualities and behavioural traits, and contextual factors specific to particular places on the other, recognising that Turkey is a particularly diverse country in terms of social development, ethnicity, economic prosperity, and religion among other aspects.

The underpinning research has been based on a case study design and has involved in-depth and semi-structured interviews with a sample of 30 District Governors, selected from across Turkey.

A key finding is that, while being appointees of the central state and accountable to their superiors in Ankara, district governors soon develop for themselves strong roles and profiles as local public leaders, though somewhat constrained in this respect both by the centre's control over resource availability, and by the growing challenge created by the ascendancy of locally elected politicians under more recent policies favouring devolution and decentralisation. The research also highlights the significance of governors' personal endeavours to resolve particularly challenging local issues to their reputations and respect within their local communities; such acts of leadership being undertaken over and above, the plethora of administrative duties and responsibilities that the state expects of its governor appointees. However, having been conducted at a time of increasing political tension and hiatus across Turkey, the research also identified a mood of considerable uncertainty and pessimism among interviewees about the future for district governorships at the interface between centre and locality within the country.

Recent public administration reforms in Turkey, and specifically, moves to devolve more powers to municipalities, imply changes in the role and influence of District Governors. Accordingly the research sought to understand how interviewees were viewing these changes and their implications for their role into the future. In this respect, almost all the governors expressed apprehension and much uncertainty about future prospects.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Government and Society, Institute of Local Government Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government


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