Towards Knowledge Governance in Public Administration
Keywords:Boundary Organizations, Knowledge Governance, Knowledge Management, Public Administration
Today´s public administration is increasingly dealing with wicked problems, involving high levels of complexity and uncertainty. Wicked problems, such as combating climate change, ask for multistakeholder approaches and the interweaving of diverse types of knowledge. Currently, however, public administration mainly works with Knowledge Management (KM): effectively using and producing in-house knowledge and developing organizational competences. To improve governmental responses to wicked problems, this paper proposes a shift in the public sector towards Knowledge Governance (KG), thereby expanding the practices of KM. The transdisciplinary field of KG focuses on structures and techniques that influence the processes of sharing and creating knowledge and the implications of types of knowledge on policy. A KG approach has proven to be more effective for addressing wicked problems through multilevel governance and system innovation. The objective of this paper is threefold. First, to summarize the state-of-the-art scholarship on KM and KG in a comparative perspective. Second, to showcase boundary organizations in public administration as an example of KG. And third, to discuss three critical factors for successful KG in public administration: 1. Establishing an institutional culture focused on system thinking and knowledge creation; 2. Reconceptualizing the concept of knowledge and address its inherit power imbalances; and 3. Enhancing active and meaningful multi-actor participation in public decision-making processes. In conclusion, we recommend boundary organizations, working on the knowledge-policy interface, for dealing with wicked problems and enhancing a paradigm shift towards KG.
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