There are calls at a national and international level for Ireland’s public sector to modernise and change to respond to unprecedented economic and fiscal challenges (Delivering Better Government, 1996; McLoughlin & Wallis, 2007; OECD, 2008). A key agent in the change agenda is senior management in the public and civil service, or the “permanent Government” (David McWilliams, 2011). The ability of senior management to envisage, plan and facilitate organisational change and development strategies will play a significant role in the sector’s ability to respond to modernisation and reform demands. Funded by the IRCHSS, Dr. Alma McCarthy led a leadership capability study at senior management level in the Irish Civil Service between May and August 2010. Over 140 senior managers (Secretaries General, Assistant Secretaries General and Principal Officers) participated in the study from 12 Government Departments and the Office of the Revenue Commissioners. In total, over 1,200 leadership surveys were completed by focal individuals (the senior managers), their managers, peers and direct reports representing the most extensive study of its kind to-date in Ireland.  The IRCHSS New Foundations grant assisted in further statistical and data analysis of this extensive qualitative data repository.


The purpose of this current grant was to provide the applicant with the resources required to advance the development of a research network on Public Sector Leadership as well as assist with dissemination of findings from a related IRCHSS RDI grant received in 2008.

The aims of this project were:

  1. To provide financial resources for advanced statistical analysis of a large qualitative dataset comprising over 3400 qualitative comments on leadership capability among senior public sector managers gathered from 1200 leadership capability questionnaires.  This dataset was gathered as part of the previous 2008 RDI grant awarded.  This statistical assistance enabled the development of  top level journal publications and builds on the work completed as part of a successful New Ideas grant received in 2011 which facilitated quantitative data analysis.
  2. To enable the preparation of a paper for presentation at University Forum for Human Resource Development (UFHRD) 2013 conference in Brighton, UK.  The purpose of attending the conference was twofold: (i) to further disseminate the findings of an IRCHSS RDI grant received in 2008 which resulted in a very large leadership capability empirical repository and (ii) to provide a forum to meet, discuss and develop a research group on Public Sector Leadership.

Funded by


@New Foundations’ Scheme 2012