Political management: what is it and why should we care?

Crawford School of Public Policy | Asia & the Pacific Policy Society

Event details

Public Lecture

Date & time

Friday 11 October 2019


Acton Theatre, Level 1, Crawford School of Public Policy, 132 Lennox Crossing, ANU


Jennifer Lees-Marshment, Associate Professor, The University of Auckland


Communications and Engagement

If you want to improve public policy, just having the best proposal is not enough – you must circumvent the multitude of obstacles that the murky reality of politics presents. Even presidents and prime ministers do not get enough formal authority to control the myriad of practitioners, players, processes and policies involved in 21st century government.

This presentation argues that policy – and any other political goal - needs good political management. Political management is about how to cultivate and wield influence in a complex system of competing interests utilising leadership, organisational structures, strategic planning, political HR and reviewing. The ability to get the right people on the team, persuade others, utilise long-established rules and adapt different leadership approaches to suit the circumstances has significant impact on policy outcomes. Drawing on a synthesis of previously disconnected literature analysed through the lens of management concepts and illustrated with documents from political organisations, this seminar will present the 4 Ds of political management - Deliberating, Designing, Doing and Dancing. The model outlines the importance of getting information and reflecting, planning what to do, implementation and management, as well as the more tactical, artful and adaptative power sources and leadership approaches that are not always clearly defined or official.

The presentation will note how political management involves expected topics such as strategic planning and recruitment but their use in a political setting is not straightforward. It will highlight how political management is more of a dance than a march, involving the unseen and the informal, and requiring artful and tactful leadership to draw on and extend diverse sources of power. Politicians and policymakers may learn this over time on the job, but more education is needed to ensure all players have political management skills at their disposal from the start.

Dr Jennifer Lees-Marshment is an Associate Professor at The University of Auckland and Visiting Fellow at Crawford school of Public Policy and in Canberra from Monday 30 September to the Friday 8 November. As the author/editor of 15 books, Jennifer is a world expert in political marketing with additional research interests in public input, leadership, and political management. She is editor of the book series Palgrave Studies in Political Marketing and Management, the Routledge Handbook of Political Marketing (2012) and lead author of Political Marketing: principles and applications 3rd edition (Routledge 2019). See

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