ECPR General Conference
Universität Hamburg, Hamburg
22 - 25 August 2018

Aftermath and Outputs; Political Elites, Leaders and their Consequences

Political Leadership
Section Number
Section Chair
Matthew Kerby
Australian National University
Section Co-Chair
Patrick Dumont
Australian National University

Patrick Dumont: Patrick Dumont is a professor in the School of Politics and International Relations at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. His research ranges from coalition theory, executive-legislative relations, parties and party systems, elections and political elites.

Matthew Kerby: Matthew Kerby is a senior lecturer in the School of Politics and International Relations at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. His research and teaching focus on the study of elite career paths, and the methods used to study and analyse them. He has written extensively on ministerial appointments and terminations in Westminster parliamentary democracies.

Mark Bennister: Mark Bennister is a Reader in Politics at Canterbury Christ Church University, UK. His research and teaching focuses on political leadership and in particular prime ministerial power. He is an academic fellow in the UK parliament researching prime ministerial accountability. He has published extensively on political leadership, prime ministers, political rhetoric and parliamentary accountability.

Section Description:

This Section is sponsored by the ECPR Standing Group on Elites and Political Leadership, which at present has over 250 members. Following the success of last year’s Elites and Political Leadership Section at the Oslo General Conference, we expect to fill the maximum of eight Panels and organise additional Panels if the number of unassigned Papers from the general call permits. For Oslo, the Standing Group requested eight Panels and we were assigned six Panels only. As a result of the large number of Paper proposal submitted we were asked to organise additional Panels. Ten strong Panels were eventually convened in Oslo – each with four Paper presenters and dedicated Chairs and Discussants. Feedback on the Oslo conference from the Standing Group membership was very positive and we expect that we will be able to provide more than eight Panels in our Section in Hamburg.

The eight Panels described below welcome contributions from scholars who are interested in the impact of and effect of political elites on policy and the outputs related to those policy domains. We move this research agenda towards the study of policy-specific sectors, the variation across democratic and semi-democratic/authoritarian systems, the evolution of the background of elites involved in policy-making, as well as how to scrutinize and measure their performance.

8 well-defined Panel ideas:

Panels 1-6:

1. Political Elites in Foreign Policy (Chair. Alejandro Quiroz Flores) (Disc. Hanna Bäck)
2. Political Elites in Economic Policy (Chair. Hanna Bäck) (Disc. Johannes Lindvall)
3. Political Elites in Social, environmental and education policy (Chair. Robert Thompson)
4. Political Elites in judicial, legal and constitutional affairs (Chair. Andrew Banfield)
5. Executive Politics and Leadership in Authoritarian and semi-democratic regimes (Chair: Mark Bennister)
6. Inside/outside political elites and their political consequences (Chair: Matthew Kerby)
7. Political Leadership Under Scrutiny (Chair: TBA)
8. The Challenge of Leadership Evaluation (Chair: TBA)

The first four Panels address policy sector specific topics that may include, but are not limited to the following subjects: to what extent is policy success and/or failure a function of individual elite action and behaviour? Aside from tests of intra-executive decision-making theories that consider ministerial portfolio cabinet holders as either autonomous agents (Laver and Shepsle 1990), servants of the prime minister/president or their party leader that cut to the heart of the principal-agent dynamic that typically informs arguments of ministerial survival and exit, we also seek to answer questions such as: how have the roles (descriptive and substantive) of political elites in specific policy domains evolved over time? What kinds of methodological approaches can be employed to study political elites who work in specific policy/political roles? Elites thus include but are not limited to the following actors: prime ministers, portfolio-holders, parliamentary committee chairs, interest group/business and professional association leaders, experts, sub- and supranational elites, non- and para governmental agency executives etc. The policy domains examined in these four panels include: foreign policy; economic policy; social/environmental/education policy; and judicial/legal/constitutional affairs.

The fifth Panel opens the black box of leadership studies in semi-democratic and authoritarian regimes by exploring the opportunities and constraints faced by leaders in these states. This is of pressing interest given that current research has rejected the traditional assumption of the executive as an omnipotent force and highlighted the complex nature and power dynamics in non-democratic regimes. This Panel welcomes contributions that shed light on the politics of executive actors in semi-democratic and authoritarian regimes.

The sixth Panel welcomes Papers that explicitly extend the empirical study of political elites beyond executive members and are not bounded to a specific policy sector. In particular, Papers that address career paths of legislators, interest group leaders, legal and other political elites whose careers intersect and cross over into the political domain are of particular interest, as are explorations in the effect and consequence of these extra-political careers on political outcomes.

The next two Panels examine how the multifaceted nature of public and political leadership present various challenges for the setting up of efficient scrutiny processes as well as for their study by public policy scholars and political sociologists. First, accountability and scrutiny of public policy, crisis response and localised governance places leaders and leadership upfront and central, raising questions about decision making and the adequacies of leadership responses in different political settings. The seventh Panel thus welcomes Papers that consider the scrutiny mechanisms that exist to make political leaders and leadership accountable for their actions.

Second, measuring, evaluating and assessing political leadership has generating a wide range of research tools and methodologies. From trait analysis of individuals in leadership positions to broader analysis of relational support for leaders and predictive typologies of leadership styles and approaches, much variety has been evident in the field. The eighth Panel welcomes Papers that engage with the challenge of collecting, measuring and evaluating the performative impact of political leadership.

Panel List

P135Elites Background and Career across Regimes and Systems View Panel Details
P217Inside/outside political elites and their political consequences View Panel Details
P248Leaders, democracy and accountability View Panel Details
P259Making Foreign Policy. The Role of Political Leaders View Panel Details
P333Political Elites in Economic Policy-Making View Panel Details
P337Political leaders and leadership in illiberal democracies, semi-democratic and authoritarian regimes View Panel Details
P452The Impact of Elites on the Making, Breaking and Keeping Campaign Promises View Panel Details
P465The Personalisation of Politics' Effects on Political Elites' Policy-Making, Features, and Evaluation View Panel Details
P502Typifying political leaders’ styles and roles View Panel Details
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