Friday, March 27, 2009

Blogging in the Mother Country

Colin Talbot, an academic from the UK has recently started a blog on Whitehall and Public Management. I met Colin a few years ago at a conference in Nottingham where I was presenting a paper on public value and contracting and we have keep in touch since exchanging papers and thoughts on the topics. He works across a range of public management topics but I found his book The Paradoxical Primate a fabulous read - highly recommended!

Colin has been doing some work in the area of public value - one of my areas of interest - and recently edited a special issue of the International Journal of Public Administration on the topic where I had an article with John Alford, Australia and New Zealand School of Government.

Colin's blog has been an instant success and shows clearly the interest in public management around the world. You can check it out here:


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the change to US laws to enable the public sector to use social networking tools to improve transparency. Most agencies will appoint a New Media director to develop New Media technologies to support agencies' missions. The US is entering into MOUs with Youtube et al and is currently negotiating with Facebook. Seems to fit with the contract/public value stream...

  3. An interesting case of government attempting to improve transparency. In the end I would see this as a new avenue for the age old problem of people understanding how and why government does things and being able to look inside the "black box" of government processes and procedures. In the end it will flourish or fail on a combination of factors: will people engage in a meaningful way? will useful and important information be directed into these channels? will citizens switch off due to information overload?

    What do you think? How do these issues sit with the work you are doing?

  4. I see information overload as the biggest problem. But the fact that the information and the channel is available cannot be overlooked. I appreciate that not everyone agrees, but if a citizen is interested, why should they be limited to face-to-face communication to be involved? The ACT Government's recent announcement of the consultation on the future of the Scullin shops is a good example. As a former resident of Scullin, I am interested in the outcome of the consultation, but I do not have time to attend the meeting. I wonder how many others are in the same boat? As to engaging in a 'meaningful way', I believe there is an educative function here - how do you engage in a meaningful way if you do not have the opportunity to engage? Reifying technology, maybe, but the amount of people engaging in online debates is significant. If formal channels for engagement existed, the state would be better able to hear more voices. Whether this is good or not depends largely on how we view the role of the state. I am not ready to give up hope in the existing system just yet, but I think openness and transparency are essential, especially when the tools are sitting there waiting to be used!

  5. Good points here Michael - I think we are in violent agreement in principle. One of the challenges in terms of implementing and managing from the perspective of government organisations is managing multiple channels of engagement and information transmission - bureaucrat overload maybe??