Affiliations: NOVA Norwegian Social Research, OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University, Stensberggata 26, 0130 Oslo, Norway | Tel.: +47 464 10 537; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: This article focuses on the relationship between network leadership and innovation in the public sector. Data from three case studies on digital-based municipal networks in Norway are presented, covering the period from 2006 to 2017. Although the networks share key characteristics, their capacity to accomplish technical and organizational integration varies considerably. Each network is thus analyzed according to four traditional leadership roles. A key finding is that there is a connection between innovation and network leadership. Networks facilitate entrepreneurship, but without an integrator and well functioning administrative superstructure, their ability to innovate could be compromised: the mix of leadership roles therefore matters. Second, given the lack of formal authority in networks, power arises when professional ICT experts with access to knowledge collaborate with Chief Executives Officers with access to decision-making structures. ‘Dyadic leadership’ and ‘Network conductors’ are terms introduced as contributions to this emerging insight. Third, informal networks and “ICT-clubs” struggle to innovate as integration advances beyond relatively loose digital collaborations. A key explanatory factor is the extent to which network leaders manage to mobilize political and administrative support towards formalizing the networks and thus driving innovation.