Skip to content

Leadership in Public Administration, 15 Credits

Swedish name: Ledarskap i offentlig förvaltning

This syllabus is valid: 2018-09-03 and until further notice

Course code: 2SV001

Credit points: 15

Education level: Second cycle

Main Field of Study and progress level: Political Science: Second cycle, has only first-cycle course/s as entry requirements

Grading scale: VG Pass with distinction, G Pass, U Fail

Responsible department: Department of Political Science

Revised by: Head of Department of Political Science, 2018-05-29


The course aim is to prepare students for advanced study and research in the field of public sector leadership. A related aim is to increase individual student understanding of the public sector as a working life context, in which a better grasp of administrative and other leadership issues can be instrumental in forwarding careers. The starting point is that public institutions, organizations and a variety of public policy processes are formative for public sector leadership. Independent course work should contribute to building such individual competence as is required for leading positions in state, local or international organizations where different public policy guidelines, whether directly or indirectly, are crucial to activities.

Course work comprises instructed, self-determined and cooperative formats. Independent literature studies are reported in writing and orally. Self-organized seminars, i.e. led by participants, are also part of the required course work. Initial lectures are given by the course instructor and guest-lectures from practitioners and/or researchers in the field of public leadership are organized according to availability. Large part of the course work is aimed at authoring a written report under scientific guidance from the course instructor. The report may focus upon a particular organizational context in which administrative change is planned, ongoing or recently finished. Alternatively, the individual report may focus upon a theoretically or conceptually driven analysis based on secondary empirical observations.

Expected learning outcomes

The intended learning outcomes for this course is for each student to be able to:
  • independently categorize and theorize the utility of different ideas about leadership in public administration.
  • perform independent analysis of public leadership in relation to policy processes in public institutions and organizations.
  • evaluate the role of public leadership in public sector reform, either in Sweden or a country of choice, and deliberate how this role fits with what the international literature says about trends and tendencies in public sector leadership.
  • understand how public sector leadership interacts with values and value systems in at least one public policy area.
  • improve individual skills concerning how public leadership can be delineated as a social-scientific object of study, identified and categorized in qualitative source work, analyzed against the backdrop of complex public policy issues and reported (in writing and orally) as a separate methodological and informational knowledge area.

Required Knowledge

At least 90 credits in a subject within the social sciences as a main field of study, including a thesis of at least 15 credits.

Proficiency in English equivalent to Swedish Upper Secondary course English A. Where the language of instruction is Swedish, applicants must prove proficiency in Swedish to the level required for basic eligibility for higher studies.

Form of instruction

Instruction during this course is given in writing, through lectures and at seminars. Academic guidance for the individual report is given individually to each student by the course instructor. During the seminar series that runs through the course according to schedule, students are expected to contribute both individually and as a group to forwarding the processual character of course work.

This is a full-time course. Participation in lectures is voluntary, but participation in the processual seminars, in individual instruction for the written report and in the final report seminar is mandatory.

Examination modes

Course examination is done based on two parallel processes. The first process relates to the processual seminars and study of the required course literature (for course literature, see separate document). In conjunction with each processual seminar, students send in logs concerning their individual study of the course literature. These reading logs are graded Pass or Fail by the course instructor during the week immediately following the processual seminar. Failure to pass a reading log or seminar will generate compensatory study tasks for the individual student. Failure to deliver required student work before the end of the course will entail the grade Fail at the end of the semester. Qualified grading for the whole course (Pass w/ distinction, Pass, Fail) is decided by the quality of the individual written report and individual performance during the final course seminar.

General rules regarding examination
A student who does not meet the requirements to pass an examination can, if decided by the course instructor, be given a complementary assignment to reach the requirements to pass the examination. The complementary assignment can be individually modified to the specific requirements that the student has failed to reach, but the assignment must be of corresponding proportion to the original examination.
Ordinarily, the complementary assignment is given at the end of the course or when the grades at the original examination is announced. When the student has been given the complementary assignment, he/she should finish the assignment within ten days (not including weekends and holidays). If the student fail to finish the assignment within the required time, a new complementary assignment can only be given the next time the course is arranged, or during the two weeks of re-take exams the Department arranges every year during week 34 and 35.
If it is not possible to do complementary assignments (if so, it is stated next to each individual examination above), the student is required to do a re-take exam. The first re-take exam should be given two months after the original examination, at the latest, but no sooner than ten days after the grade on the original examination has been given (not including weekends and holidays). If the examination is given during May or June, the first re-take exam should be given no later than three months after the original examination. Two weeks of re-take exams are also arranged every year, which means complementary assignments are treated during this time independently of when the course was given. These weeks are arranged during week 34 and 35.
Students who fail an examination may retake that examination. A student has the right to request a new examiner if he/she fails two sub-course examinations (i.e. an examination and a re-take). In such cases students should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies (Studierektor). Examination in accordance with the same syllabus as during the original examination can be guaranteed for up to two years after the student’s first registration.

The appointed examiner may decide to use other forms of examination if required by particular circumstances.

Transfer of Credits
Students who wish to transfer credits from other Departments or universities (Swedish or foreign) should do so in accordance to the Principal's decision “Tillgodoräknandeordning vid Umeå universitet (Dnr. 545-3317-02)”.

The application must be submitted in written form. The request should specify which module or course the request applies to. An official transcript should also be submitted. The transcript must include the following information: where and when the course was given, the discipline and level of the course, total course credits and grade received. A syllabus describing the course and a list of required readings should be submitted with the request. Where applicable, written research papers should also be submitted.
Upon completion of this course, the credits can be transferred to a selective course. However it is always the responsible Department or program that determines the possibility for credit transfers and the extent of the credit transfer. The student should therefore always contact the responsible Department or program before submitting an application for credit transfers.

Other regulations

A written and anonymous course evaluation is given at the end of the course. During the course an oral evaluation is also arranged, and the student can also anonymously submit thoughts and opinions in digital form.


Valid from: 2018 week 36

Required reading (to be acquired and studied for this course)

Burns James MacGregor
Transforming leadership : a new pursuit of happiness
New York : Grove : 2003 : ix, 319 s :
ISBN: 9780802141187
Search the University Library catalogue

Christensen Tom
Organization theory and the public sector
London : Routledge : 2007 : xv, 191 p. :
ISBN: 9780415433808
Search the University Library catalogue

Heifetz Ronald A
practice of adaptive leadership : tools and tactics for changing your organization and the world [Elektronisk resurs]
2009 :

Nye Joseph S.
The powers to lead
Oxford : Oxford University Press : 2008 : xiii, 226 s. :
ISBN: 978-0-19-533562-0
Search the University Library catalogue

Rhode Deborah L.
Women and leadership
2017 : 242 pages :
ISBN: 9780190614713
Search the University Library catalogue

Terry Larry D.
Leadership of Public Bureaucracies [electronic resource] : Administrator as Conservator [Elektronisk resurs]
uuuu-uuuu :
Reading instructions: 2015

An additional memoir in book format written by a political and/or administrative leader. Additional scientific articles as relevant to individual report work.

Selective reading (depending upon student interest and focus)

The risk society and beyond : critical issues for social theory
Adam Barbara, Beck Ulrich, Loon Joost van
London : SAGE : 2000 : vii, 232 s. :
ISBN: 0761964681
Search the University Library catalogue

The new public leadership challenge [Elektronisk resurs]
Brookes Stephen, Grint Keith
Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan : 2010. : PDF (384 p.) :
Table of Contents / Abstracts

Essential guide to qualitative methods in organizational research
Cassell Catherine, Symon Gillian
London : Sage : 2004 ; reprinted 2011 : 388 s. :
ISBN: 0-7619-4887-2
Search the University Library catalogue

Ideas and foreign policy : beliefs, institutions, and political change
Goldstein Judith, Keohane Robert O.
Ithaca : Cornell University Press : 1993 : 278 s. :
ISBN: 0801429315
Search the University Library catalogue

Grint Keith.
Leadership : a very short introduction
2010 : 142 p. :
ISBN: 9780199569915
Search the University Library catalogue

Governing the embedded state : the organizational dimension of governance
Jacobsson Bengt, Pierre Jon, Sundström Göran
1. ed. : Oxford : Oxford University Press : 2015 : ix, 165 s. :
ISBN: 978-0-19-968416-8
Search the University Library catalogue

Kellerman Barbara
Political leadership : a source book
Pittsburgh, Pa. : University of Pittsburgh Press : cop. 1986 :
ISBN: 0-8229-3534-1
Search the University Library catalogue

Handbook of administrative reform : an international perspective
Killian Jerri, Eklund Niklas
Boca Raton : Auerbach Publications : c2008 : xxii, 271 p. :
ISBN: 978-0-8493-8065-5 (hardback : alk. paper)
Search the University Library catalogue

Rediscovering institutions : the organizational basis of politics
March James G., Olsen Johan P.
New York : Free Press : 1989 : vii, 227 s. :
ISBN: 0029201152
Search the University Library catalogue

Handbook of public administration
Peters B. Guy, Pierre Jon
London : SAGE : 2003 : xiv, 640 s. :
ISBN: 0-7619-7224-2
Search the University Library catalogue

In-depth reading (depending upon student specialization)

Dahl Robert A.
Who governs? : democracy and power in an American city
New Haven, Conn. : 1961 : 355 s. :

Drucker Peter Ferdinand
The effective executive.
London : Heinemann : 1967 : 148 s. :
ISBN: 0-434-90393-0
Search the University Library catalogue

Janis Irving L.
Victims of groupthink : a psychological study of foreign-policy decisions and fiascoes
Boston : Houghton Mifflin : cop. 1972 : viii, 276 s. :
ISBN: 0-395-14044-7
Search the University Library catalogue

Problems of democratic transition and consolidation : southern Europe, South America, and post-communist Europe
Linz Juan J., Stepan Alfred C.
Baltimore : Johns Hopkins Univ. Press : 1996 : 479 s. :
ISBN: 0-8018-5157-2
Search the University Library catalogue

Michels Robert
Political parties : A sociological study of the oligarchical tendencies of modern democracy
New York : Dover : 1959 : 416 s. :

Mosca Gaetano
The ruling class
Repr. : New York : 1939, pr. 1980 : 514 s :
ISBN: 0070434816
Search the University Library catalogue

The rise and fall of elites : an application of theoretical sociology
Pareto Vilfredo, Zetterberg Hans L.
New Brunswick, N.J. : Transaction Publishers : cop. 1991 : 120 s. :
ISBN: 0887388728
Search the University Library catalogue

Page Edward C.
Political authority and bureaucratic power : a comparative analysis
Brighton : Wheatsheaf : 1985 : 193 s. :
ISBN: 0-7108-0211-0
Search the University Library catalogue

Administrative behavior : a study of decision-making processes in administrative organization
Simon Herbert A., Barnard Chester Irving
2. ed., with new introduction : New York : Macmillan : 1957 : xlviii, 259 s. :

Hoek M. P. van der.
Handbook of public administration and policy in the European Union
Boca Raton, FL : Taylor & Francis : 2005. : 825 s. :
ISBN: 0824759141
Search the University Library catalogue

Political writings
Weber Max, Lassman Peter, Speirs Ronald
Cambridge : Cambridge University Press : 1994 : xxxi, 390 s. :
ISBN: 0-521-39312-4
Search the University Library catalogue