Learning across borders: the case of Danish local government
International Journal of Public Sector Management
Article publication date: 1 December 2006
This paper sets out to chart the transnational activities of Danish local government, with a specific view to examining the perceived relevance of these activities for public sector learning, innovation and development. More specifically, it probes into the degree to which Danish local government can be seen to have a global outlook and is actively participating in knowledge sharing and knowledge production across borders; and the nature of this engagement.
Theoretically, the study draws on the literatures of public management, governance and globalization. Empirically, the paper is founded on a survey of the global orientation of the 79 largest Danish local authorities, and on a number of more detailed studies of selected local authorities conducted in 2003‐2004.
The findings show that more than a third of the local authorities surveyed consider themselves very internationally active, even if a closer examination of the data suggests that the nature, intensity and, importantly, strategic implications of these activities vary considerably. Nevertheless, for several major authorities, transnational activities and, more generally, a global outlook, are part and parcel of being a learning organization. For a majority of authorities, however, transnational activities appear to constitute an under‐utilized learning, innovation and development resource which, if carefully attended to and managed, could bring some distinct value to the municipal organization.
The modest size of the overall population of respondents, a response rate of only 65 per cent and the open‐ended nature of many of the questions suggest that no firm conclusions can be drawn on the basis of these data. The questions probed into the lived experience of the interviewees, and what we got was their representation of the world. The data cannot tell us anything about what these authorities actually do, whether transnational activities can actually be harnessed as a management development tool.
The study is explorative in the sense that it seeks to elicit insights into a relatively under‐researched area. It adds some flesh to current thinking about the global interconnectedness of local authorities, focusing on the strategic implications of such an orientation.
Salskov‐Iversen, D. (2006), "Learning across borders: the case of Danish local government", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 19 No. 7, pp. 673-686. https://doi.org/10.1108/09513550610704699
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