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Boundary Spanners in Public Management and Governance

An Interdisciplinary Assessment

Ingmar van Meerkerk and Jurian Edelenbos

Boundary spanning behavior is important for both public, non-profit and private organizations to ‘survive’: to stay relevant in relation to the environment, to innovate, to improve performance and to collaborate in an effective manner, especially in multi-organizational settings. Providing an assessment of factors influencing the work and effectiveness of boundary spanners, and discussing the impact of boundary spanners on different types of outcomes (collaboration, trust, organizational innovation), this book offers a coherent overview of the evolution of boundary spanning in an interactive governance context.
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Chapter 3: Theoretical origins and perspectives on boundary spanning

Ingmar van Meerkerk and Jurian Edelenbos

Extract

This chapter deals with the theoretical roots and evolution of boundary spanning theory. It provides an overview of various theoretical perspectives on boundary spanning and discusses differences and complementarities between the perspectives. It thereby provides an overview in the various literature and approaches on boundary spanning which can enhance comprehensive understanding of boundary spanning theory and which can be used in research on boundary spanning. In this chapter three theoretical perspectives on boundary spanning are distinguished and discussed: the structuralist, the role, and the action perspective. Each perspective approach boundary spanners in a distinct way and highlights different aspects of boundary spanning behavior. Furthermore, we come to a definition of boundary spanners building on the different perspectives, elaborating four key features of boundary spanners.

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