Steering as Path Creation: Leadership and the Art of Managing Dependencies and Reality Effects

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Steering as Path Creation: Leadership and the Art of Managing Dependencies and Reality Effects


  • Kristof Van Assche Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Canada
  • Martijn Duineveld Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
  • Monica Gruezmacher Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Canada
  • Raoul Beunen Faculty of Science, Open University, The Netherlands


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Abstract:  We develop a perspective on steering in governance which understands steering as intended path creation. Inspired by evolutionary governance theory, critical management studies and social systems theory, we argue that steering is shaped and limited by co-evolutions, disallowing for any formulaic approach. In order to illuminate the space for steering in governance, we analyze the interplay between different dependencies. Those dependencies are not just obstacles to path creation, they can also be pointers and assets. The steering discussion is further complicated by always unique sets of couplings between a governance system and its environment. After introducing the ideas of reality effects and governance strategy, we further develop our concept of steering and present it as the management of dependencies (in governance) and reality effects (outside governance) towards path creation. This management is ideally strategic in nature and requires leadership in a new role.

Keywords:  dependencies; governance; leadership; path creation; reality effect; steering

Published:   25 June 2021


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v9i2.4027


© Kristof Van Assche, Martijn Duineveld, Monica Gruezmacher, Raoul Beunen. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.