The Leadership Studio responds to a ‘call to action’ issued by the Scottish Leaders Forum in June 2016, which recognised the growing need for more collaborative leadership in the highly complex world of public sector innovation. In particular, there is limited documented knowledge, evidence and experience regarding the techniques and practices that might facilitate the development of collaborative leadership. This project asks what types of intervention are effective in developing readiness and capacity for collaborative leadership in the context of complex public issues? It aims to design a suite of interventions, and then to demonstrate the efficacy of these with a group of Scottish public sector leaders as they work together on a complex problem.

The project is underpinned by a studio pedagogy, which emphasises the co-production of hands-on learning-by-doing in real lived contexts. Three different participant groups will contribute to this co-learning: the International Leadership Experts group, which includes scholars and advisors from New Zealand, Quebec, New York City, England, and Scotland; the Senior Practitioners group, which will be drawn from the membership of the Scottish Leaders Forum; and the Enabling group, which is drawn from the programme team. All participants will engage in multiple, embedded action inquiries, the results of which will be widely disseminated.

The objectives of the project are:

  • To learn from public practice in other jurisdictions that contrast with Scotland;
  • To learn from the cross-fertilization of ideas in academic and practice domains;
  • To learn from, and within, a team of Scottish public sector leaders as their collaborative leadership develops in response to a complex challenge; and
  • To disseminate these learnings through the Scottish Leaders Forum and beyond through the international network of scholars and practitioners who participate in the Leadership Studio.

We anticipate that the results of this project will directly influence the practice of collaborative leadership in the Scottish public sector, and as a consequence the provision of public services should become increasingly more flexible, more transparent and more relevant to Scotland’s people, who in turn will begin to feel the benefits of greater empowerment in shaping their own lives.

Programme Team

Professor Barbara Simpson - University of Strathclyde

Professor Irene McAra-McWilliam - Glasgow School of Art

David Wilson - International Public Policy Institute, University of Strathclyde

Tomorrow's Women


Final Report