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Thinking about Leadership by Nannerl O. Keohane

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Introduction

“THE CHIEF EMERGES from his tent to face the leaden morning light,” begins an article in the New York Times. The topic is not an expedition to an ancient village but a settlement of homeless people in Providence, Rhode Island, called Camp Runamuck. The rules of the community of about fifty people are made by a rough form of democracy, but there is no doubt that Chief John Freitas is central in the governance of the camp. “I was always considered the leader, the chief,” Mr. Freitas says. “I was the one consulted about ‘where should I put my tent?’” When someone questioned why he should be the guy bossing others around, Freitas immediately stepped down. But then, “arguments broke out. Food was stolen.” As one resident puts it, “there ...

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