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Singular memory or institutional memories? toward a dynamic approach


Corbett, J and Grube, DC and Lovell, H and Scott, R, Singular memory or institutional memories? toward a dynamic approach, Governance, 31, (3) pp. 555-573. ISSN 0952-1895 (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1111/gove.12340


The ability of the civil service to act as a reservoir of institutional memory is central to the pragmatic task of governing. But there is a growing body of scholarship that suggests the bureaucracy is failing at this core task. In this article, we distinguish between two different ways of thinking about institutional memory: one "static" and one "dynamic." In the former, memory is singular and held in document form, especially by files and procedures. In the latter, memories reside with people and are thus dispersed across the array of actors that make up the differentiated polity. Drawing on four policy examples from three countries, we argue that a more dynamic understanding of the way institutions remember is both empirically salient and normatively desirable. We conclude that the current conceptualization of institutional memory needs to be recalibrated to fit the types of policy learning practices required by modern collaborative governance.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:institutional memory, governance, policy, civil service
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Policy and administration
Research Field:Public administration
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Government and politics
Objective Field:Public services policy advice and analysis
UTAS Author:Lovell, H (Professor Heather Lovell)
ID Code:126915
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:9
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2018-07-02
Last Modified:2018-12-03

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