Training may also be seen as a Machiavellian means for politicians to increase their power over others (Searing, 1995).
Therefore, despite a growing dialogue about the need to support new politicians (see Cooper-Thomas, this issue, p.364; Fox & Korris, 2012; Steinack, 2012), limited public awareness about the nature and challenges of political work remains an important barrier to the introduction of development activities.
We focus in particular on the question of why, compared with the considerable efforts and monies devoted to developing public- and private-sector leaders, so little formal support and development is available for aspiring and incumbent politicians.
We suggest that while it might be easy to blame this lack of training on politicians themselves – to ascribe the apparent reluctance to admit or address development needs to arrogance, hubris or self-interest – there may be legitimate reasons for being wary about introducing training to politics.
While political scientists and the media are all too ready to debate whether or not MPs should have second jobs, or whether too many new politicians enter Parliament with no experience of the workplace beyond being a political intern or researcher for a MP, the voices of work psychologists remain conspicuous by their absence. Stress among national politicians elected to Parliament for the first time.
In this article we argue that work psychology as a discipline has much to contribute to these debates, and to more fundamental questions about the nature and importance of political work. However, as Weber argues, relying on the expertise of employed officers or civil servants is also problematic, because a lack of knowledge can leave politicians ‘in the position of the “dilettante” who stands opposite the “expert”’ (Weber, cited in Gerth & Mills, 1946, p.232), or at the very least less powerful than the trained officials who manage the administration. Arguably, therefore, politicians still need to know enough to be able to evaluate the information they are given, and to challenge decisions effectively if required. However, with 180 of the current 650 British MPs declaring second jobs that generate total earnings of more than £7.4 million (according to the Financial Times, 23 February 2015), it does seem that time could well be found if the motivation was there to do so. Written evidence submitted to the House of Commons Governance Committee. The practical challenge is probably more difficult for local politicians who, unlike MPs, are not usually paid for their roles, and by volunteering their time often struggle to maintain a balance between the demands of paid employment, family commitments, and council duties. Common sources of resistance When we began working with politicians and political parties just over a decade ago, we were surprised by the lack of training for political roles, as well as a general resistance to the idea of formal development for politicians. Over the course of several projects we were able to capture the views of MPs, parliamentary candidates and local councillors, and three common sources of resistance towards training and development emerged. Sinangil (Eds.) Handbook of industrial work and organizational psychology, Volume 3. King (1981) argues that politicians are not professionals, because they are not expected to possess a distinct body of technical knowledge when they are elected – nor are they required to develop one once in office. Women and candidate selection in British political parties. Not only does this mean that politicians have the legitimate power to determine for themselves what and how they should learn, it also means that political roles can be open to individuals from all backgrounds who possess diverse knowledge and skills acquired via education, work or life experience. Thus resistance to training and development for politicians derives in part from the belief that such formal activities undermine the legitimate right of elected representatives to determine how they will enact their roles and represent the needs and views of their constituents. It’s a power struggle, about who has the right to determine or define the content and performance of political roles.