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ECPR Rising Star Award

Elites and Political Leadership

Comparative Politics
Political Leadership
Section Number
Section Chairs
Matthew Kerby
Australian National University
Mark Bennister
University of Lincoln
Section Co-Chair

This section marks the initial offering of a new ECPR Standing Group on Elites and Political Leadership. The panels bring together contemporary debates, traditions and trajectories that students of both political and social elites and political leadership share. The panels range from those that focus on theory and method to structure and agency. The scope is far-reaching and considers the developed and developing worlds as well as a range of actors in their capacities as elites and leaders.
Proposed Panels

1. Gendered Patterns of Elite Career paths in the Comparative Context
This panel explores the variation in elite career paths between men and women across political jurisdictions at the individual level of analysis. The traditional barriers to individual-level data collection are rapidly evaporating at the advent of the era of big data analytics and “open government”. The impact on researchers’ ability to question and examine in detail the constraints and opportunities that exist within and around a political career are especially pronounced for those who study gender and politics as biographical data on both male and female political elites becomes increasingly available. Papers which address the determinants and consequences of elite appointment, duration and exit across country cases are welcome, as are those which address gendered career paths in the multi-level context.

2. Elite Social Background and Democratic Governance in Africa:
The literature on the characteristics of post-colonial African elites who achieve and retain political power is sparse. This literature has yet to systematically address the extent to which post-colonial social contexts and factors shape the paths of African political elites and guide them towards and within democratic regimes. This panel welcomes papers that link African elites and their political environments to the durability and development of democratic governance within their respective regimes.

3. Comparative Judicial Careers:
This panel welcomes papers on the subject of judicial careers in the comparative context. While attention has been paid to judicial career trajectories in individual country cases, particularly the US, fewer studies compare judicial careers across countries or system-types with an eye to explaining variation in the paths to, within and beyond the judiciary. Papers which compare appointments, resignations, the evolution and pattern of judicial decisions across states or levels within states are especially welcome.

4. Individual nomination procedures: the right persons for the job?
This panel seeks to compare political systems that specify some form of parliamentary investiture, confirmation/nomination/screening rules pertaining to the individual members of executive office. In the US, South Korean and other presidential systems cabinet members are screened by parliament, whereas the EU has recently adopted a process through which commissioners proposed by member states can be refused by the EP or reallocated to another portfolio before a vote by the EU Commission is taken. This panel aims to analyze these procedures and compare them to those used in systems where the cabinet depends on the support of parliament. What are the effects of these nomination rules on the choices of executive personnel made by presidents, PMs and party leaders (in coalition systems) – or member states in the EU – and on the eventual composition of executives? Owing to portfolio allocation, what is the impact of such rules on the policy expertise of executive portfolio holders?

5. Methodological developments for studying political elites
While regression and survival analysis continue to serve as workhorses when systematically studying political careers, developments in social science research methodology and the increased ease of access to new technology and data presents the opportunity to expand and enhance the study of political elites beyond the comfortable confines of existing and well-worn techniques. This panel welcomes innovative contributions to the study of political elites that employ new methods to answer old and new research questions alike. Papers that showcase big data and real-time analytics are especially welcome.

6. Authoritative leadership in the multilevel context
Ongoing scholarly debates on leadership capital and political leadership show that authority and credibility are crucial assets for political leaders, but that their attainment is not as straightforward as has been in the past. The demands placed on contemporary leaders are different and the socio-economical, institutional and political contexts in which they operate have changed considerably. In this panel we explore the sources of authority different types of leaders (can) draw on in their relationships with citizens, as well as the communicative characteristics of the interaction between citizens and leaders at different levels of government.

7. Political leadership: Theory and Practice – Contested Approaches
Different national political traditions have influenced the development of theories of leadership that are rooted in ‘cold’ advice on how to manage power (Machiavelli) or ‘warm’ approaches to ethically acceptable and exemplary modes of leadership. More recently, new theoretical concepts have included behavioural models, situational theories, and contingency theory. Many of these concepts derive from US influenced social sciences are firmly nested in approaches that highlight the importance of human agency. The panel explores theories of leadership under a special consideration of their historical and regional contexts to map out different ‘cultures’ of political leadership in theory and practice.

8. Political Leadership and Parliamentary Democracy in Comparative Perspective.
The changing nature of executive power has historical, policy and representative significance. This panel examines institutional, stylistic and historical shifts in the resources and development of the prime ministerial position in a selection of comparative cases. Papers consider resources, personality and perception. Also recruitment and pathways to power are considered in addition to responses to crises. Papers consider in particular the Canadian prime ministership, ranked as the most centralized of any major parliamentary democracy (O'Malley 2007). The panel explores facets of executive leadership in Canada, UK and Australia placing the dynamics of a parliamentary system in a North American society in a broader context.

Panel List

Code Title Details
P033Authoritative Leadership in the Multi-Level Context View Panel Details
P034Before and After: Preconditions and Postconditions Among Leaders and Elites View Panel Details
P101Elected and Unelected Elites View Panel Details
P152Gendered Patterns of Elite Career Paths in the Comparative Context View Panel Details
P232Methodological Developments for Studying Political Elites View Panel Details
P255Patterns of Party and Executive Leadership: From Coalition to Personalism View Panel Details
P275Political Leadership and Complexity: Dominance and Responsiveness View Panel Details
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