A Relational Approach to Leadership for Multi-Actor Governance

M. Craps*, I. Vermeesch, A.R.P.J. Dewulf, K. Sips, C.J.A.M. Termeer, R. Bouwen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Multi-actor governance, in which a broad mix of actors collaborates to deal with complex societal problems, requires a leadership approach that can take into account the dynamic interdependencies between the involved actors. A relational approach to leadership, focusing on processes and practices, is more adequate for that purpose than approaches focusing on individuals and positions. Complexity leadership theory offers such a relational approach to leadership within organizations. In this article, we use complexity leadership theory to capture the emergent leadership processes between organizations. We focus on the characteristics of the informal relations between representatives of different organizations that enable dealing with the often-conflicting goals and values in multi-actor governance. The case of a landfill mining initiative for sustainable materials governance is used as an illustration to clarify the main concepts and arguments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12
JournalAdministrative Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • relational approach
  • inter-organizational collaboration
  • multi-actor governance
  • complexity leadership theory
  • landfill mining

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