A Guide to Best Practice
Chapter 3: Theoretical discussion of best practice research
Best Practice Research (BPR) was originally conceived within the management field and began to manifest itself in the public policy arena in the early 1990s (Vesely 2011). It is based on the idea that instead of an abstract ideal state one strives for, the focus should be on developing what has been or is being implemented and is proven to work somewhere else. Overman and Boyd (1994, p. 69) state the primary goal of BPR is ‘the selective observation of a set of exemplars across different contexts in order to derive more generalizable principles and theories of management’. One of the more interesting characteristics of best practice that can be found in many different articles is the need for the results of BPR to be inspiring to others. Perhaps one of the few consistencies in the literature regarding BPR is that academics and practitioners alike are less than satisfied with the rigour of its theoretical and methodological underpinnings. In fact, there is really little consensus on what constitutes a ‘best’ or ‘good’ practice. Different definitions of ‘best practice’ abound. Perhaps the most flexible one is to ‘identify, communicate and facilitate the transfer of practices that seem to work successfully somewhere else’ (Vesely 2011). Bretschneider et al. (2005, p. 309) state the term ‘best practice’ implies that it is best when compared to any alternative course of action and that it is a practice designed to achieve some deliberative end.
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