GV4D5      Half Unit
Organisations, Power and Leadership

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Patrick Dunleavy and Sir Richard Mottram


This course is compulsory on the MPA in European Public and Economic Policy, MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy and MPA in Public and Social Policy. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This half-unit course provides an introduction to understanding power and leadership in organisations making or influencing public policies (such as government agencies, firms, professional bodies, NGOs, aid agencies etc). Topics include: Organizations - How bureaucracies are structured in terms of morphology, budget types, functions and missions; Organizational culture; Understanding competition for power in organizations. Power - Analysing organized power; Power and the decision process under majority rule; Power in executive contexts . Leadership - Conventional views of organisational and political leadership; Rational choice perspectives on leadership and policy change; Leaders, delegates and the power of appointment; How leaders can shape organisational change in government. One case study is discussed each week. The range of cases is drawn from economic, public management, international development, social policy and European policy contexts.


16 hours of lectures and 12 hours of seminars in the MT.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to complete one formative piece of written work during MT to assist them in preparing their main assessed essay, which is due in January.

Indicative reading

A full reading list will be distributed at the beginning of the course.

Useful preliminary readings are:

Organizations - H. Mintzberg, Structure in Fives (Prentice Hall, 1983); P. Dunleavy, Democracy, Bureaucracy and Public Choice (Harvester-Wheatsheaf, now Longman, 1991), Part II only;
Power - K. Dowding, Rational Choice and Political Power (Edward Elgar, 1991). N. Luhman, Trust and Power (Wiley, 1979), Part II only; P. Morriss, Power: A Philosophical Analysis (Manchester University Press, 2002).
Leadership - J. S. Nye, Powers to Lead (Oxford University Press, 2008); P. G. Northouse, Leadership: Theory and Practice, 4th edition (Sage, 2007); G. Allison and P. Zelikow, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, 2nd edition (Longman, 1999); W. H. Riker, The Art of Political Manipulation (Yale University Press, 1986).


Essay (60%, 4000 words) in the LT.
Class participation (5%), presentation (10%) and other (25%) in the MT.

The assessment is by:
- the student's participation in seminars(5%);
- an individual seminar presentation (ie slide set plus no more than 20 minutes talk) (10%);
- a case study analysis of max. 2,000 words in Michaelmas Term (25%);
- an essay of max. ,4000 words (60%) due at the beginning of Lent Term.

Student performance results

(2009/10 - 2011/12 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 11.6
Merit 83.8
Pass 4.6
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2012/13: 100

Average class size 2012/13: 14

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course survey results

(2010/11 - 2012/13 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 65.3%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)