The Contingency of Leadership – A Case Study of Municipal Trajectory Management

Ole Johan Andersen


The paper elaborates on the contingency of leadership, referring to specific circumstances that require deliberate interventions, while challenging efforts to implement concerted action. This applies particularly when issues are at stake. The paper suggests that the notion of trajectory, which lies at the heart of the pragmatist Anselm Strauss’ interactionist theory of action, merits further consideration. Empirically, the paper draws on experiences from a case study of an innovative project consisting of the building of premises for a library and a concert hall, called ‘Stormen’, in Bodø municipality, located in Northern Norway. Several controversial issues bore on the process. Although the municipal leadership managed to bring the project to a successful conclusion, trajectory management was rather demanding. The paper should consequently serve the analytical purpose well of discussing how and why contingencies, anticipated as well as unanticipated, challenge the performance of leadership.


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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413