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About the Center

The Center is an interdisciplinary research centre and is physically located at the Department of Political Science, Aarhus University. The Center opened May 2018 in honour of HR King Frederik’s 50th birthday. It is sponsored by Købmand Herman Sallings Fond.

The Center’s vision is to contribute to improving the public sector by producing, sharing and implementing research-based knowledge about public leadership and to increase public organisations’ capability to develop and achieve their objectives to the benefit of citizens and society.

The vision will be fulfilled via three strategic focus areas: produce research on public leadership at the highest international level; share this knowledge in close dialogue with practitioners in order to implement research in public organisations and apply research in teaching and leadership development activities targeted at current and future public leaders.

Production of international top research

The Center’s home base, the Department of Political Science, Aarhus University, already produces world-class research. In 2018, the Department placed third in the world on the ShanghaiRanking of public administration research institutions. The ranking is based on, among other things, research productivity, research quality and degree of international collaboration.

The Center’s ambition is to maintain and over time expand its position as a world-leading research institution that produces top-level research in public leadership.

To accomplish its ambition, the Center will focus on three areas. The first is extensive international collaboration with top leadership researchers from some of the world’s best universities. The Center’s researchers often participate in top international academic conferences and regularly publish peer-reviewed scientific articles in the best international journals. In addition, international researchers visit Aarhus University on extended stays, and the Center’s own researchers go abroad for research stays at esteemed international universities. Finally, the Center management participates in Global Leadership Centers Roundtable, a collaboration between the world’s top leadership centres.

The second focus area is a series of ambitious research projects based on the highest methodological standards for conducting top-quality research, for instance, lottery-based field experiments. This is only possible when Danish public organisations make themselves available to research, and close and effective collaboration with Danish public organisations is therefore a precondition for producing top-notch research.

The third means is extensive interdisciplinary collaboration where diverse perspectives and insights from existing leadership theory and research can be implemented in the production of new research. The researchers come from political science, psychology, business management, economics and public health science from national and international universities and knowledge institutions.

Sharing and creating knowledge in collaboration with practice

The Center can only successfully contribute to an improved public sector if its research is implemented in practice. Dissemination of and dialogue about the Center’s research is therefore a top priority via, for example, presentations, workshops and other communication activities for all interested – including and especially public organisations.

Dialogue with practitioners is not only about implementing existing research in public organisations. It is also a question of pinpointing real-life problems so that future research projects can address some of the issues that leaders and employees in public organisations encounter. Only that way can we ensure that our research projects have practical relevance, and this is why dialogue with practitioners has top priority.

We also focus on implementing our research at the national political level. In 2018, the Center director participated several commissions, and the Center provided input to the government’s leadership and competence reform.

Finally, we communicate our research in a practice-oriented format on digital platforms, for instance our newsletter “Viden om offentlig ledelse” [Knowledge about public leadership], practice-oriented articles, videos and podcasts about our leadership research and on social media like LinkedIn and Twitter.

Applying research in teaching and leadership development

The Center’s research is also brought into play in a number of educational programs in which public leadership occurs and where the Center's researchers are included as lecturers. This especially applies to the Flexible Master in Public Management (FMOL), which is an offer provided in collaboration between the University of Southern Denmark and Aarhus BSS. Furthermore, the Center’s researchers also contribute to a number of other master's programs targeted public leaders. In addition, the Center's researchers also teach students in leadership subjects at the undergraduate and graduate levels at Aarhus BSS.

Furthermore, we contribute with leadership development activities in public organizations' as an integral part of our knowledge sharing with practitioners. On the top of that, we also hold an annual leadership conference where the Center's research is brought into play in relation to the development of public leaders.