Managing the knowledge capital of public administrations

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change

ISSN: 1832-5912

Article publication date: 6 June 2008




Ruggiero, P. (2008), "Managing the knowledge capital of public administrations", Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, Vol. 4 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Managing the knowledge capital of public administrations

Article Type: Doctoral research abstracts From: Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, Volume 4, Issue 2

Purpose – The aim of the thesis is to contribute to the advancement of the accounting theory in the public sector and especially in local public administrations. The growing complexity existing within social system and the increasing interdependences between subjects operating within a context makes more important the development of relationship between global and local realities. In this changing environment the role of public administrations, especially at the local level (local public administrations, universities, health-care trusts, etc.) becomes more and more important as coordinator and regulator of the developing processes of their own social-economic environment.

Design/methodology/approach – Relationships between public and private sector have shifted enormously in the last two decades. Many policy initiatives shifted the supply of public services out of the public administrations into the market. Privatisation process, contracting out, increasing forms of regulations are some examples of this process. As a consequence, local public entities, especially municipalities, are called to redefine their institutional mission and strategic action. To this end many scholars have highlighted the importance of managing knowledge in the public sector either in terms of production, sharing and exploitation within and between organisation involved in public services provision. After having described the changing process of the public sector focussing on the passage from the old public administration to the actual public governance through the NPM and based on a deductive perspective, the adoption of the learning organisation model in the public sector has been discussed. In particular, in the second part of the thesis through a literature review the concept of governance has been discussed.

Findings – Taking into consideration the various subjects involved with the public governance it has been possible to identify three different levels:

  1. 1.

    Internal governance. Regarding the relationships existing between all the subjects operating within a single public administration body.

  2. 2.

    Systemic governance. Regarding the relationships existing between all the public administration bodies.

  3. 3.

    Global governance. Regarding the relationships between all the public or private bodies operating within a social-economic context and the corresponding community.

Even if scholars have emphasized different aspects of the public governance, it is possible to put in evidence some common aspects:

  • the replacement of the role of steerer with that of coordinator;

  • the existence of networks to provide public services; and

  • the outward orientation of the local public administrations giving more possibilities to social community to participate to the activity both of policy-making and policy-implementation.

Originality/value – In the next part of the thesis, it has been clarified the processes and principles suitable for managing knowledge in the public sector in general and particularly, in local public administrations. In the last part of the work, it has been highlighted the possibility of using the intellectual capital theory in order to shift the great focus of the public sector accounting systems from the financial and quantitative measures to non financial ones.

Keywords: Public sector accounting, Public administration, New public management, Public governance

Research paper – Post-doctoral thesisInstitution – University of Siena, ItalyContact e-mail –

Pasquale RuggieroDepartment of Business and Social Studies, University of Siena, Siena, Italy

Related articles