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Singular memory or institutional memories? Toward a dynamic approach

Singular memory or institutional memories? Toward a dynamic approach
Singular memory or institutional memories? Toward a dynamic approach
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 conceptualisation of institutional memory needs to be recalibrated to fit the types of policy learning practices required by modern collaborative governance.
0952-1895
555-573
Corbett, Jack
ad651655-ac70-4072-a36f-92165e296ce2
Grube, Dennis C.
398929d8-c9bb-40dd-8fb2-d2e06ba090b4
Lovell, Heather
44cd3359-25a5-476f-8b41-9e365df8469e
Scott, Rodney
ab036a39-b13e-47dc-94f9-af5263278ccd
Corbett, Jack
ad651655-ac70-4072-a36f-92165e296ce2
Grube, Dennis C.
398929d8-c9bb-40dd-8fb2-d2e06ba090b4
Lovell, Heather
44cd3359-25a5-476f-8b41-9e365df8469e
Scott, Rodney
ab036a39-b13e-47dc-94f9-af5263278ccd

Corbett, Jack, Grube, Dennis C., Lovell, Heather and Scott, Rodney (2018) Singular memory or institutional memories? Toward a dynamic approach. Governance, 31 (3), 555-573. (doi:10.1111/gove.12340).

Record type: Article

Abstract

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 conceptualisation of institutional memory needs to be recalibrated to fit the types of policy learning practices required by modern collaborative governance.

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Institutional Memory Revised DEC 2017 - Accepted Manuscript
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Accepted/In Press date: 24 December 2017
e-pub ahead of print date: 12 February 2018
Published date: July 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 416847
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/416847
ISSN: 0952-1895
PURE UUID: dd05d336-7cd4-4a1e-9e10-926851a87abc
ORCID for Jack Corbett: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-2005-7162

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Date deposited: 11 Jan 2018 17:30
Last modified: 18 Feb 2021 17:25

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