The Loss of Leadership Machiavelli and Australian prime ministers

Bateman, Joel (2007). The Loss of Leadership Machiavelli and Australian prime ministers PhD Thesis, School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland.

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Author Bateman, Joel
Thesis Title The Loss of Leadership Machiavelli and Australian prime ministers
School, Centre or Institute School of Political Science and International Studies
Institution University of Queensland
Publication date 2007
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Rae Wear
Abstract/Summary In this thesis I explore the phenomenon of the loss of political leadership. This is a problem which has not received much academic attention, yet it is important to understanding leadership in a broader sense. I examine the loss of leadership by using the writings of Niccolò Machiavelli to assess four Australian prime ministers: John Gorton, Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. From Machiavelli’s political writings and advice on successful leadership, I have drawn four criteria by which leaders can be measured. The leaders’ performance on these four measures can be used to explain their political success and failures. Machiavelli’s method was one of observation and description, from which he constructed advice for political leaders. He self-consciously sought to present advice to leaders based on the realities of human nature, rather than on abstract theory or moral principles, and it is for this reason that his ideas are relevant to systems beyond Florence of the 15th and 16th centuries. Many aspects of political systems vary, but in most respects human nature remains the same, and thus Machiavelli’s observations on leadership resonate today. The four measures of successful leadership I draw from Machiavelli are: political judgement and flexibility; the perception of strength; relationship with the public; and relationship with colleagues. To succeed, leaders need do well on each of these aspects of leadership, while poor performance on any will contribute to their loss of leadership. Australia’s post-World War II experience has seen only Sir Robert Menzies choose the manner of his departure from office, with most of the remaining leaders falling through either of two ways: a party-room deposition or electoral defeat. A prime minister’s style will affect the manner in which they lose their leadership. Of the four Australian prime ministers analysed and compared in this thesis, two ended their leadership through each of the two main forms of leadership loss. Similarities within, and contrasts between, the two groups of leaders exist.

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Created: Fri, 21 Nov 2008, 15:37:45 EST