Emerging Theoretical Understanding of Pluricentric Coordination in Public Governance

Anne Reff Pedersen, Karina Sehested, Eva Sørensen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Currently, we are witnessing a comprehensive change in the theoretical understandings of how coordination is provided in the pursuit of public governance. Traditional strands of theory took their departure from the presumption that coordination is the outcome of processes within coherent institutionally or functionally demarcated units that follows a specific pregiven rational logic of consequentiality. This view is apparent in public administration theory, organization theory, and planning theory. In recent years, this unitary, rationalist understanding of coordination has been challenged by a more pluricentric understanding of coordination in public governance. Coordination is viewed as a messy and floating process that revolves around interactive arenas that promote communication between a plurality of interpretive logics and situated practises. Although the traditional theories of coordination tended to view vertical and horizontal forms of coordination as radically different modes of coordination, the new theories question the analytical value of this distinction by pointing to the relational, interpretive, interdependent, and interactive aspects of all coordination processes including processes in which public authorities seek to govern their subjects. In the new theories, one of the main questions is how to get a better hold of this new understanding of coordination in processes of public governance. The article aims to do so by bringing together insights from three theoretical strands: public administration theory, organizational theory, and planning theory to show how each of them are currently contributing to the development of what we define as a theory of pluricentric coordination in public governance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Review of Public Administration
Volume41
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)375-394
ISSN0275-0740
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011

Cite this

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title = "Emerging Theoretical Understanding of Pluricentric Coordination in Public Governance",
abstract = "Currently, we are witnessing a comprehensive change in the theoretical understandings of how coordination is provided in the pursuit of public governance. Traditional strands of theory took their departure from the presumption that coordination is the outcome of processes within coherent institutionally or functionally demarcated units that follows a specific pregiven rational logic of consequentiality. This view is apparent in public administration theory, organization theory, and planning theory. In recent years, this unitary, rationalist understanding of coordination has been challenged by a more pluricentric understanding of coordination in public governance. Coordination is viewed as a messy and floating process that revolves around interactive arenas that promote communication between a plurality of interpretive logics and situated practises. Although the traditional theories of coordination tended to view vertical and horizontal forms of coordination as radically different modes of coordination, the new theories question the analytical value of this distinction by pointing to the relational, interpretive, interdependent, and interactive aspects of all coordination processes including processes in which public authorities seek to govern their subjects. In the new theories, one of the main questions is how to get a better hold of this new understanding of coordination in processes of public governance. The article aims to do so by bringing together insights from three theoretical strands: public administration theory, organizational theory, and planning theory to show how each of them are currently contributing to the development of what we define as a theory of pluricentric coordination in public governance.",
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Emerging Theoretical Understanding of Pluricentric Coordination in Public Governance. / Reff Pedersen, Anne; Sehested, Karina; Sørensen, Eva.

In: American Review of Public Administration, Vol. 41, No. 4, 07.2011, p. 375-394.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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AB - Currently, we are witnessing a comprehensive change in the theoretical understandings of how coordination is provided in the pursuit of public governance. Traditional strands of theory took their departure from the presumption that coordination is the outcome of processes within coherent institutionally or functionally demarcated units that follows a specific pregiven rational logic of consequentiality. This view is apparent in public administration theory, organization theory, and planning theory. In recent years, this unitary, rationalist understanding of coordination has been challenged by a more pluricentric understanding of coordination in public governance. Coordination is viewed as a messy and floating process that revolves around interactive arenas that promote communication between a plurality of interpretive logics and situated practises. Although the traditional theories of coordination tended to view vertical and horizontal forms of coordination as radically different modes of coordination, the new theories question the analytical value of this distinction by pointing to the relational, interpretive, interdependent, and interactive aspects of all coordination processes including processes in which public authorities seek to govern their subjects. In the new theories, one of the main questions is how to get a better hold of this new understanding of coordination in processes of public governance. The article aims to do so by bringing together insights from three theoretical strands: public administration theory, organizational theory, and planning theory to show how each of them are currently contributing to the development of what we define as a theory of pluricentric coordination in public governance.

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