Third sector leadership: the power of narrative

Working Paper 76

The third sector is experiencing a radical shift in its political and economic environment. It is possibly undergoing a significant transformation in its shape, its role and its relationship with the state. However, much of the third sector’s conversation appears to be focused on questions of organisational survival and resilience. There seems to be precious little discussion of the deeper question - of what the sector is becoming, or what role it should play through and beyond the contemporary politics of austerity.

There appears to be no sustained sector-wide conversation about the potential transformation underway. Drawing on academic literature on leadership, this paper outlines a version of third sector leadership that involves a 'strategic narrative' to frame and shape the direction of debate.

The paper calls for a more open and vigorous conversation about the role and future of the third sector, and the potential for developing a big narrative for the third sector and civil society.

Research contacts

Dr Rob Macmillan
Vic McLaren