Thursday, October 18, 2007

The leadership illusion

This highlights one of the paradoxes of our political culture: that as the real world has become increasingly sceptical in recent years about the power of leadership, political parties have become more obsessed with it.

Outside of politics, we've learnt since the around the mid-80s that decentralized decision-making often works best - this is the lesson of the collapse of the Soviet Union; that individuals lack the knowledge or cognitive power to control big organizations; that there's wisdom in crowds rather than in centralized organizations; that self-managed structures are more flexible than top-down ones; and that network governance deals better than hierarchy with complexity.


But when we look at political parties, we see the opposite development - an increasing obsession with leadership and centralism; just look how party conferences have declined from policy-making bodies to mere rallies.

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