© 2014

Public Administration in Contested Societies


About this book


Why are some conflicts managed better than others? Social scientists have used various disciplinary lenses to answer this question but until now, public administration has not been used to understand how conflict is managed. This book explores the everyday management of conflict in two cases of power-sharing from the view of elite level bureaucrats


bureaucracy conflict conflict management conflicts decision-making Policy policy-making public administration

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.School of Criminology, Politics and Social PolicyUniversity of UlsterNorthern Ireland

About the authors

Karl O' Connor is Lecturer in Public Policy and Management, School of Criminology, Politics and Social Policy, University of Ulster, UK. He has published in the areas of conflict management/resolution, public policy, bureaucrat behaviour, Q Methodology and European committee governance. His PhD thesis, upon which this book is based, won The Hutton Prize for Excellence which aims to reward research that contributes to increasing standards of governance.

Bibliographic information

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"This book is based on important and original research exploring the governance of contested societies, in particular Brussels and Belfast. O'Connor brings a fresh approach to an age old problem; how can different peoples live together in peace while faced with conflict? He explores the role of the elite level bureaucrats and in particular the role they play via representative bureaucracy, in delivering services through a system of multi-level governance and complex networks of policy makers and service deliverers. It is an important book and one that students and practitioners of governance, conflict and security would be well advised to read."

Andrew Massey, Department of Politics, University of Exeter, UK.

"In this tempting approach to the role of bureaucracy in conflict management, Karl O'Connor illustrates the active role of the bureaucratic elite in the shadow of the political discourse. He opens a promising new research dimension in the analysis of contested societies and their complex pacification mechanisms."

Rudi Janssens, Department of History, Free University of Brussels, Belgium

"Taking Belfast and Brussels as examples of divided cities, the author explores the environment in which bureaucrats interact with elected politicians. His working assumption is that administrative capacity is not only necessary for attaining goals of good governance, but also for sustaining power-sharing agreements. O'Connor writes lucidly, engaging the reader's attention throughout, and making a valuable contribution to our understanding of how 'divided cities' meet daily challenges. The book will enlighten and absorb researchers and practitioners alike."

Edward Moxon-Browne, Professor (Emeritus) of European Integration at the University of Limerick, Ireland