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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 6: Antecedents of boundary spanning behaviour

Ingmar van Meerkerk and Jurian Edelenbos


In the field of public management and governance there is relatively little insight in antecedents of boundary spanning behavior. There is some research discussing individual competences, but organizational and environmental factors are not much examined yet. As organizational psychology and business administration literature has picked up the topic of boundary spanning antecedents more extensively, much can be learned from these disciplines. Based on a systematic literature review, this chapter distinguishes and discusses different types of antecedents that influence boundary spanning behaviour (quality and level of boundary spanning activities) and job experience of boundary spanners. Four sets of antecedents are discussed: (1) individual determinants, (2) environmental characteristics, (3) organizational support, and (4) role composition and role stressors. In the last section a framework in which these different types of antecedents are related will be discussed and several avenues for future research will be provided.

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