AuthorTiclau, Tudor
  1. Leadership in the public sector

    While leadership itself is an ubiquitous research topic, this is also true for public sector leadership. On the one hand, a very broad area of research steams from the assumption that public and private are different (Rainey, 1997), thus any concepts related to organizational theory, including leadership should have these differences in mind. Secondly, (good) leadership is seen as an important driver for performance and this coupled with public sector performance being a constant topic of research and debate, questions related to what good (effective) leadership in the public sector means, how it can be developed through trainings or education only come natural in mind (Jacobsen and Andersen, 2015). Finally, leadership is indirectly linked to public sector reform, whether leaders are seen as champions of the reform process or major resistance sources, public sector reform has arguably been one of the defining features of the research and policy landscape for the past three decades (Pollitt and Bouckaert, 2011), with public organizations being a constant subject to rigorous and extensive management reforms (Andrews, Downe and Guarneros-Meza, 2013; Jilke and Van de Walle, 2014), while leaders are called upon to guide successfully in very tumultuous conditions.

    Thus our purpose with this study is not to highlight the importance of public sector leadership, as this is self-evident, but rather to shed light on the latest researches on the topic, in the Romanian study space. We chose to focus only on researches done on public sector leadership in Romania because of two major reasons: 1) it seems that Romanian academics struggle to publish their works in top ranking journals in other fields (see Bulai et al. 2016, for the field of economics), and we want to test whether this is the case for leadership studies; 2) there is very little empirical data on public sector leadership in Romania.

    Consequently, our main research questions are: a) What are the main theoretical frameworks/theories used for public sector leadership research in Romania in the last 10 years?; b) How much of this research is done by Romanian authors?; What is the quality level of these efforts?

  2. Methods

    Document analysis was the main tool used to gather data. We set up a multicriteria selection and analysis process. The data search and gathering was done only on online platforms, mostly because of convenience use but also based on the exponential growth of the online environment and ever-increasing importance it has in facilitating access and increasing visibility of research efforts (Balaban et al., 2016). A first set of criteria was used for article search and selection, as portrayed in Table 1.

    The data collection was done in two phases. The first phase involved an analysis of top international journals in the field of public administration positioned in the first two quartiles (top 50%) as classified by the VEFISCDI [1]. We selected 6 journals from the total of 24 journals that met the top 50% threshold, mostly based on the notoriety and link between the name of the journal and the topic of leadership. The journals selected are:

    * Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory;

    * Public Administration Review;

    * Public Administration;

    * Review of Public Personnel Administration;

    * International Public Management Journal; and

    * Public Management Review.

    We used the combination of the three keywords (public + leadership + Romania) as search criteria, in each of the journals. In case of no results, we renewed the search using only 2 keywords (leadership + Romania). The search was done on the website of each journal either using the general search engine available or, where it was possible, also using the advanced search option for more refined results.

  3. Results

    For the first phase of the project the final results indicate there were no articles published in the last 10 years on the topic of public sector leadership in top tier journals in the field of public administration by Romanian authors. Detailed results of what the actual search online turned out are presented in Table 2.

    The main takeaways from the first phase of the research are that public leadership in Romania is basically absent as a research subject in the top journals, in the field of public administration. Even where articles turned out with the 2 keywords search, none of them were focused on Romania, and very few (3) dealt with leadership in the public sector. This lack of results in top journals is explored in the discussion section of the article.

    In the second phase of the research, we applied the same set of criteria for search, selection and analysis but now using Google Scholar. The procedure remained the same, with public + leadership + Romania being the initial combination, and then trying out the search with just two keywords. We gathered the results of the first seven pages displayed by Google Scholar. The results of the data collection in the second phase are featured in Table 3 (below):

    Table 3: Articles identified and selected through Google Scholar search engine No. of articles turned up by No. of articles that meet the Google Scholar selection criteria 22 12 Source: Authors' own compilation The main reasons for dropping 10 out of the 22 articles are: no focus on the public sector (4), not focused directly on leadership (3), out of date (3). For the articles that passed the abstract analysis phase and were selected, we performed a thorough content analysis; the results are summarized in Table 4.

  4. Discussion

    Our purpose with this study was to offer a clear image on the state of research on the topic of public sector leadership. We raised the following research questions: a) What are the main theoretical frameworks/theories used for public sector leadership research in Romania in the last 10 years?; b) How much of this research is done by Romanian authors?; What is the quality level of these efforts?

    4.1. Theoretical frameworks

    Interestingly enough, the most common framework used is that of transformational leadership, 6 out of 12 articles choosing this as the supporting theory for the leadership concept. There are several reasons why this was (somewhat) to be expected. The first one is the popularity of the theory. Judge and Piccolo (2004) found that a 'search of keywords in materials published from 1990 to 2003 in the PsycINFO database...

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