To present a perspective on partnership grounded in empirical management research. This paper is based on a keynote presentation by the author at a conference on partnership in Durham in 2004.
It reflects on the particular challenges of realising partnership ideals in the field of public policy with its rich textures of accountability, reflecting a career perspective of management research and the facilitation of planning workshops in inter‐organisational policy domains.
The challenge of managing decisions within an often obscure maze of inter‐agency relations is interpreted as one of developmental decision making, within which personal capacities for responsible scheming play a crucial role.
It is argued that this view offers more appropriate guidance to partnership practice than a more conventional system‐centred perspective; and that this has important implications for future research and education in public management.
To learn from one another's experiences, it is suggested that public managers should cultivate capacities to map graphically the shifting patterns of structural relations among issues and among organisational roles. It is argued that the firmer grasp of new communication technologies exhibited by emergent generations offers new promise in this direction, bridging the traditional educational divide between the arts and the sciences.
The paper offers fresh perspectives on partnership that are intended to challenge the thinking of practitioners and consultants as well as researchers.
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