G News

Gender, place attachment and the leadership of cities and regions in transition

Lynette Washington (presenter) and Andrew Beer


We interviewed 14 place leaders in South Australian and Victorian communities impacted by the closure of the automotive manufacturing industry. We found that place leaders use four key mechanisms to enhance their effectiveness, and that they assess their own effectiveness differently to their community’s assessment of them. In terms of the four mechanisms, firstly, we found that place attachment was significant for all leaders; it was expressed through various mechanisms and was connected to their perceived authority to speak of and with the community. Secondly, we found that place leaders’ perspectives were gendered; women leaders spoke differently about their roles than men leaders. Thirdly, we found that the COVID-19 pandemic created opportunities for creative boundary spanning, but that super silos emerged, limiting genuine structural change. Finally, we observed that place leaders presented divergent, fragile narratives of their communities that were not well aligned to the communities’ own perceptions.