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

Kristof Van Assche, Martijn Duineveld, Monica Gruezmacher, R. Beunen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-380
Number of pages12
JournalPolitics and Governance
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


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