© 2018

Democratizing Public Management

Towards Practice-Based Theory


About this book


This book argues that contemporary society in general, and public administration specifically, can benefit from more reflexive learning processes through democracy and public involvement. It identifies the most central social practices, dilemmas, and challenges for public management as well as the mechanisms needed to enact institutional change. Offering a model of reflexivity and learning in the face of public dispute, it explores phenomena such as problem solving, democratization, public learning, and uncertainty to address certain tensions in governance theory and practice.

Through a range of well-sourced case studies, this book demonstrates how institutions can manage difficult situations by not only resolving the conflict but addressing the underlying problem. It uses both theoretical and practical approaches to observe the micro foundations of political behavior and its institutional underpinnings, and will be a valuable resource for public administration researchers, practitioners, and graduate students seeking empirical studies of learning processes in the public sphere. 


Public administration public governance democracy governance political behavior government public policy reflexivity

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.VID Specialized UniversityOsloNorway

About the authors

Marta Strumińska-Kutra is a sociologist at VID Specialized University, Norway and Kozminski University, Poland. Her areas of expertise include governance, public disputes, corporate social responsibility, public administration, sustainable innovation, and the methodology of critical and participatory research.

Bibliographic information


“A wide-ranging and deeply thoughtful book that advances a practice-oriented model of governance and a pragmatist-oriented action research methodology to bridge the gap between theory and practice.  Through an insightful analysis of four public disputes, the book illuminates both the possibilities and the challenges of democratizing governance.” (Christopher Ansell, University of California, Berkeley, USA)

“This important book focusses on the role of learning in governance research and practice and analyses its implications for metagovernance and management. It develops a practice oriented research framework and applies it in a number of interesting case studies of conflictual governance processes.” (Eva Sørensen, Roskilde University, Denmark)

“This practice-based analysis explores contingencies of collaborative learning in the face bureaucratic resistance, surprise and fear, complexity and public disputes.  Cogently and clearly argued, and reframing double loop learning as more deliberatively interactive and institutionally entrepreneurial practices of governance, this book promises to advance public administration theory and practice.” (John Forester, Cornell University, USA)