In a rapidly changing and increasingly complex environment, the importance of reflection for public managers has been acknowledged almost unanimously by academics as well as practitioners. In this article we highlight the necessity to look at reflection in a more nuanced way. Reflection is a broad and multifaceted concept and public sector work environments are not consistently complex. We therefore argue that a differentiated and nuanced approach towards the role and purpose of reflection is required in order to do justice to the great variety of different constellations and to make the concept manageable in practice. Focusing on three standard configurations – newcomers, experts and line managers in public administration – we illustrate that different types of reflection processes are required to different extents in various practical situations. By this approach we aim to provide a multilayered perspective on reflection that sheds light on its advantages as well as highlighting the downsides and suggesting ways to address them.
- Reflective practice