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Marc Hertogh

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Edited by Marc Hertogh and Richard Kirkham

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Marc Hertogh and Richard Kirkham

This chapter provides a review of the state of ombudsman research past and present. It makes the argument that much has been achieved in ombudsman scholarship but suggests that as an overall body of work there are multiple gaps in our understanding, as well as our methodological and theoretical approaches to the subject. The claim is made that there is need for a more integrated and coherent approach to the study of the ombudsman, and internationally a greater awareness in the sector of the different studies already in place. The chapter additionally argues that there remains a relative shortfall in empirical research on ombudsman institutions and a need to connect that research back to our theoretical understandings of the role that the ombudsman plays. Finally, the chapters in the book are used to illustrate perhaps the main running theme of the ombudsman institution: the diversity in the way that it has evolved.

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Marc Hertogh and Richard Kirkham

Based on a review of the chapters in this book, this concluding chapter asks: what are the biggest future challenges for the ombudsman? And what will be the most significant challenges for future ombudsman research? The chapter argues that three major societal trends can be identified that will also have ongoing implications for the future position of the ombudsman: globalization; juridification; and contestation. It makes the argument that these developments should also have implications for future ombudsman research. Shifting our attention from ‘ombudsman and society’ to ‘ombudsman in society,’ the chapter discusses three major objectives for future ombudsman studies: more theory; more empirical research; and more comparative research. Finally, the claim is made that the biggest challenge for future research is to develop a general ‘ombuds-science’: a dedicated, interdisciplinary and integrated academic approach to analyse all aspects of the ombudsman.