Boundary Challenges and the Work of Boundary Spanners

Fiona Buick, Janine O'Flynn, Eleanor Malbon

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    A key part of the discussion of the future public service workforce and the broader discourse on public sector modernization and transformation has been the centrality of cross-boundary working. The activity relates as much to the old roles that Dickinson and Sullivan (2014) set out—the expert, the regulator, the engager, the reticulist—as it does to the new ones—the commissioner, the curator, the foresighter, and the storyteller (see Chap. 1). More and more governments around the world have become interested in how to work more effectively across a range of boundaries. This increased attention sometimes glosses over the fact that cross-boundary working has always been a key part of getting the work of government done—part of the old roles that Dickinson and Sullivan (2014) see as critically important to the future. But it also signals a change in the way in which we think about government, its role and how it goes about getting things done. A part of this has been the notion that collaboration has become “the new normal” (Sullivan 2014), and intensified the focus on boundary crossing activity. Thus, even if the need to cross boundaries has, and will always, exist, the relative importance placed on this will likely change (O’Flynn et al. 2014; Pollitt 2003; Sullivan and Skelcher 2002).
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationReimagining the Future Public Service Workforce
    Editors Helen Dickinson, Catherine Mangan, Catherine Needham, Helen Sullivan
    Place of PublicationSingapore
    ISBN (Print)978-981-13-1480-3
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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