New portrait book aims to make public leaders visible


Public leaders must increase their visibility and demonstrate the value they create, says Anne Reff Pedersen, Professor at Copenhagen Business School (CBS). She is the co-author of a new book, where a head of division at the Danish Security Intelligence Service, a chief nurse and four other public leaders speak in very honest terms about how they have initiated change.


Warden of the State Prison in Nyborg, Arne Tornvig Christensen. Front page photo: Head nurse of the heart-medical clinic at Rigshospitalet, Mette Rosendal Darmer. 
Photographer: Kim Vadskær

Prison wardens, chief nurses at Rigshospitalet or municipal chief executives are rarely recognised for their efforts. Often, scandals tend to secure public leaders media coverage.

And often, it is the successful CEO of the business community that is portrayed in the national daily newspapers. This observation was a part of Professor Anne Reff Pedersen's motivation for observing the daily routine of six public leaders, which has resulted in the book Når ledere skaber offentlig værdi (when leaders create public value).

The observed leaders speak in nuanced terms about their working life, which aims at solving society problems as to how young people are educated, how crime is prevented and how climate adjustments become a daily routine.

”I have great respect for the difficult and complicated social tasks that public leaders have to solve. But things that fail or go wrong tend to get the most media coverage. Public leaders have to increase their visibility and demonstrate the value they create. It provides legitimacy to public management, which often is not as visible as private management", says Anne Reff Pedersen.

Honest stories from everyday life
The book is a result of a close collaboration with anthropologist and visiting researcher at CBS Charlotte Cécile Renard. She has observed each leader closely for months and made use of the ethnographic and narrative method, which provides the reader with a seldom insight into the power room of the public sector.

The reader meets the warden of the State Prison in Nyborg, the head nurse of the heart-medical clinic at Rigshospitalet, the municipal executive officer at Ballerup Municipality, the head of the Preventive Security Department at the Danish Security Intelligence Service, the head of centre for planning, environment and climate at Fredensborg Municipality, and the headmaster of Copenhagen Open High School.

Works for society and not the bottom line
Common to the leaders in the book is their drive and will to bring about change in their organisation for the benefit of society at large, says Anne Reff Pedersen.

”The public leaders we have met are fully capable of teaching private leaders how to solve complicated social issues to create public value. Value that is not only about the bottom line for an organisation, but about creating value for society", she says.

200 leaders convene at CBS
The book is launched today at the conference "Set the organisation free". More than 200 leaders will meet at CBS at 12:30-13:00 to discuss organisational changes. The CBS programme Master of Public Governance brings together both public and private leaders for the second year in a row.

Read more about the conference ”Set the organisation free” - the conference is in Danish

The book, which is published by Nyt fra Samfundsvidenskaberne can be found here:
Når ledere skaber offentlig værdi

For more information, please contact:
Professor at the Department of Organization and Programme Director for the Master of Public Governance:
Anne Reff Pedersen

Or CBS Journalist:
Matilde Hørmand-Pallesen


The page was last edited by: Communications // 09/25/2017