Table of Contents

Managing Social Issues

Managing Social Issues

A Public Values Perspective

Edited by Peter Leisink, Paul Boselie, Maarten van Bottenburg and Dian Marie Hosking

Western societies face complex social issues and a growing diversity of views on how these should be addressed. The traditional view focuses on government and public policy but neglects the initiatives that non-profit and private organizations and local networks take. This book presents a broader variety of viewpoints and theories. Looking at various cases, the authors analyse conflicting values and interests, actors’ understandings of the public values related to social issues, and their action to create what they regard as public value. Drawing together these perspectives the authors point the way to how government and the private and voluntary sectors can work in tandem to resolve social issues.

Chapter 15: Concluding analysis

Peter Leisink, Paul Boselie, Maarten van Bottenburg and Dian Marie Hosking

Subjects: business and management, corporate social responsibility, public management, politics and public policy, public administration and management, public policy


The chapters in this book have approached the study of the management of social issues in various ways, giving rich answers to the questions that are central to the public values perspective that characterizes our approach. In this concluding analysis, we examine the answers that the contributors have given to these questions. We end by discussing five issues that are key to a public values perspective on managing social issues, but first the questions and‘answers’. Brewer notes that some of the classic social problems such as crime, disease, illiteracy and unemployment have principally been addressed through social policy, but that the government’s lead role in providing for citizens’ needs has been severely criticized in recent years. This has led not only to cutbacks in government spending but also to the replacement of direct government intervention by them sharing responsibilities with non-profit and private organizations. The result, Brewer claims, is that it is getting harder to manage social issues. Brewer observes that the set of public values that is relevant to social services, and which is deeply rooted in its history, is not self-evidently shared in network settings. This set of public values consists of accountability, due process, economy, effectiveness, efficiency, equity, ethicalness, justice, quality, respect, responsiveness, satisfaction, stewardship and transparency. These values are substantive, meaningful touchstones for public officials. Ultimately, public officials should aspire to create something of public value for citizens and they should be guided by public values as performance targets in their work. However, in a multi-sector network, each entity will have its own notion of what constitutes good performance. Brewer suggests that, in network settings, dimensions of performance such as good stewardship, sustainability and equity gain prominence. Thus, network managers must learn how to manage in terms of public values and how to harness public service motivation to effectively implement social policies in network settings.

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