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ESN’s working group on 'Leadership, Performance and Innovation' was set up in the wake of the economic crisis in Europe. It brought together senior managers of public social services at local and regional level to evaluate both the impact of and the responses to the crisis, and to explore what this experience might mean for the future of the welfare state and for the leadership and management of social services.

The group's mandate ended in 2013. In 2014, ESN published a series of papers based on this work entitled 'Contemporary issues in the public management of social services in Europe' in which we discuss why and how directors of social services, senior professionals, politicians and other stakeholders should address evidence and innovation, leadership and management and cross-sector partnerships in their responses to the crisis.

The group built on ESN’s past work, notably on the impact of the crisis and innovation in social services, in a series of meetings looking at strategic issues:

  1. During the first meeting participants looked at several case studies on service management in austerity and tackled the question of (social) innovation: what do we mean by it and how do we use it?
  2. The group's second meeting explored three topics: the impact of the crisis, leadership & management, and social services in the Europe 2020 strategy.
  3. The third meeting was focused on evidence-based practice. Read more in English, český; Deutch; español; français; italiano; polski; српски
  4. During the fourth meeting group members reflected on the future of welfare in light of rising demand and budgetary pressures.
  5. The fifth meeting looked at strategic partnerships with other public services by bringing together experts from education, health and employment. 
  6. The last meeting of the working group addressed the topic of leadership in social services, with the discussion being led by a guest expert from the National Skills Academy in the UK.

ESN members can access all the resources from the meetings in the Projects section of the Members' Area.