Navigating the Fragments: Political Dimensions of Managing Networked Public Service Delivery
Our knowledge of networked governance is first acquired through empirical research. Like other empirically derived concepts - Robert Dahl’s ‘democratic pluralism’ or Robert Putman’s ‘social capital’ - its cogence comes from being built on observable facts. Networks occur in government and in governance, they can be described and how they work can be ‘mapped’. What is missing from our lexicon to discuss and, more importantly, evaluate networks is the normative dimension. How ought networks to work? Can we develop an argument that says networked government, or networked service delivery, is in any sense ‘better’ than other organisational forms? To answer these questions and to answer the questions posed more broadly here about the politics of new forms of public governance and leadership, we need to look to more traditional political theory: to evaluate the use of networks in terms of democracy rather than just in terms of empirical description. By bringing our empirical knowledge of the existence of networks into conjunction with the normative values of democracy it is hoped to provide some insights on how public sector managers in regimes who aspire to deliver democratic outcomes might ‘lead’ through the use of ‘networks’. Of course, such a discussion presents something of a methodological nightmare as, rather than supplanting the meta narrative of representative government with a post modern narrative of ‘governance’ and ‘networks’, it brings them together. Any incommensurability, however, can only serve to exemplify and highlight the complexity of ‘leadership’ in the contemporary public sector.
KeywordsSocial Capital Public Manager Responsible Government Network Governance Bonding Social Capital
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Bishop, P./ Carmel, C. (2003), The New Public Sector: Changing Management, Organisation and Ethics, in: Bishop, P./ Connors, C./ Sampford, C. (eds.), Management, Organisation, and Ethics in the Public Sector, UK: Ashgate, pp. 3–18Google Scholar
- Englestad, F./ Østerid, Ø. (eds.) (2004), Power and Democracy, Critical Interventions, Aldershot: AshgateGoogle Scholar
- Fox, C./ Miller, H. (1995), Postmodern Public Administration, Towards Discourse, London: SageGoogle Scholar
- Hajer, M. A./ Wagenaar, H. (2003), Deliberative Policy Analysis, Understanding Governance in the Network Society, Cambridge: Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
- Pollitt, C./ Bouckaert, G. (2000), Public Management Reform, A Comparative Analysis, Oxford: Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
- Putman, R. D. (1993), Making Democracy Work, Civic Traditions in Modern Italy, Princeton: Princeton University PressGoogle Scholar
- Putman, R. D. (2000), Bowling Alone, The Collapse and Revival of American Community, New York: Simon & SchusterGoogle Scholar
- Rhodes, R. A. W. (1997), Understanding Governance, Policy Networks, Governance, Reflexivity and Accountability, Buckingham: Open University PressGoogle Scholar
- Shapiro, I. (2003), The State of Democratic Theory, Princeton: Princeton University PressGoogle Scholar
- Shergold, P. (2004), Connecting Government, Whole of Government Approaches to Australia’s Priority Challenges, Institute of Public Administration, Occasional Paper, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
- Torgerson, D. (2003), Democracy through Policy Discourse, in: Hajer, M. A./ Wagenaar, H. (eds.), Deliberative Policy Analysis Understanding Governance in the Network Society, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 113–138Google Scholar