Paradoxal participation. Or, why `new management is often so hard to accomplish

R.A. Werkman, C.J.A.M. Termeer

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperAcademicpeer-review


Public) management theories in the last decades are strongly characterized by shifting perspectives. Traditionally, management was characterized by rather hierarchical and instrumental assumptions. More recently, management philosophies are increasingly focused on participation and interaction. Reasons for this shift are diverse. In public management, for instance, a gap between the state and civil society resulting from hierarchical management strategies appeared to hinder rather than contribute to finding solutions in a changing and complex environment. This resulted in an exploration of new management philosophies, such as participative management, governance, interactive policy and network management. Especially in policy domains, that are often characterized by large numbers of parties involved, a large variety in stories, arguments and interpretations and a resulting highly complex and fractioned debate, these new philosophies provide new ways of dealing with a complex whole of different and often conflicting actors, wishes, goals and contexts, premises, and solutions. Remarkably however, the realization of these new philosophies often progresses with difficulty. In this paper, I will explore the reasons why this is so difficult by identifying a series of complex patterns in processes of managing and interaction and that for instance hinder cooperation, problem solving, policy formulation and - execution. A variety of theories and methods used in the social sciences, such as configuration analysis, narratives and deconstruction techniques, as well as analysis of circular interaction patterns, is used to identify fixated patterns and formulate action alternatives. We will end this paper by discussing some possible perspectives for intervention that may help change these patterns and facilitate interaction.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2007
EventIPA 2007 - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 31 May 20072 Jun 2007


ConferenceIPA 2007


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