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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 8: Looking back and moving forward in the field of boundary spanning

Ingmar van Meerkerk and Jurian Edelenbos


In this chapter the main insights from this book are summarized. Next, a dynamic and integral research framework is elaborated in which the various components of the book are synthesized: boundary spanning activities, antecedents and context, boundary spanning interaction and outcomes of boundary spanning work. This framework brings together insights from various studies of different disciplines and aims to enhance comprehensive understanding of boundary spanners. This framework can facilitate scholars and students in their study and future research efforts on boundary spanners. Furthermore, several issues and guidelines for practitioners who are engaged in boundary-spanning endeavours, are discussed. Boundary spanning is a challenging job that needs a fertile context in order to become meaningful and effective in public management and governance. Key challenges that boundary spanners face in doing their job, for example balancing vertical and horizontal accountabilities, in supporting their home organizations and their stakeholders in the network are discussed.

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