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Public Policy and Administration


Paul Rutledge


Partnerships between public and for profit organizations are increasing in frequency and scope due to scarce economic resources to support and deliver social programs. However, little is known about the characteristics of a successful partnership versus the characteristics of a failed partnership. The purpose of the study was to explore the leadership characteristics that were exhibited by the management team of a public-private partnership (PPP) that suffered a significant failure at the onset of the partnership, but recovered successfully over a period of time. The research question explored which leadership characteristics existed within the public and for-profit leadership teams that impacted the project team's ability to deliver the program requirements. A qualitative case study approach was utilized with the theoretical framework leveraging both Greenleaf's servant leadership philosophy and Burn's transformational and transactional leadership styles. A purposive sampling strategy identified 9 people who played a key role in the PPP, experienced the repercussions of the failure, and participated in the remediation efforts. All data were inductively coded and then subjected to a constant comparative method of analysis. The analysis revealed a strong relationship between servant leadership attributes exhibited by the leadership team and the project team's ability to traverse the partnership challenges. Data analysis indicates the necessity of effective servant leadership, specifically the attributes of understanding and empathy. Implications for positive social change from this study may lead to improved partnership delivery outcomes and better utilization of taxpayer funds to administer social programs.

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