• Marika Prüsse-Nielsen
  • Camilla Jensen
In Denmark, there has been a great political focus on marginalized residential areas. These residential areas have an overrepresentation of people being unemployed or in other ways excluded from society. The complex problems in these areas can be characterized as wicked problems, where there exists no easy solution.

The housing organizations and the local municipality have the responsibility for the social development of the areas. They can apply for financial support from the Danish organization, Landsbyggefonden. To be granted financial support, there must be a social development plan with a board of directors that has the leading and strategic responsibility.

In connection to the organizational context, the project managers of the social development plans have the responsibility to combine the strategic level with the practical level. It is at the practical level, that the work with the vulnerable and marginalized residents takes place.

The aim of this study has been to explore what consequences the new organizational context, with a high strategic level, has had on the managers’ involvement with the residents at the practical level. To answer this question, we have conducted four focus group interviews with project managers from 16 social development plans in Denmark. The methodological approach has contributed to important knowledge of the project managers’ opinions and practices concerning the organizational context and involvement of the residents.

We have used theoretical perspectives on public leadership including Old Public Administration, New Public Management, and New Public Governance. Furthermore, we have used perspectives on leadership tools such as citizen involvement and co-creation. The theoretical perspectives have contributed to a language to understand and explain the empirical data.

The analysis has shown that the managers are placed in a complex situation where they must manage both New Public Management-rationales and New Public Governance-rationales. The organizational context concerning the board of directors is characterized by target management and optimizing efficiency whereas the managers use methods that focus on involvement and resource mobilization. Because of the organizational context, the managers do not involve the residents as much as they desired. Instead, they use external partnerships, such as local NGOs and the municipality, as a supplement to the involvement of the residents. The consequence is that the managers practice less involvement, and instead the responsibility for the involvement lies on the external partnerships.
Publication date9 Jun 2022
Number of pages106
ID: 472295068