Research Handbook on the Ombudsman
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Research Handbook on the Ombudsman

Edited by Marc Hertogh and Richard Kirkham

The public sector ombudsman has become one of the most important administrative justice institutions in many countries around the world. This international and interdisciplinary Research Handbook brings together leading scholars and practitioners to discuss the state-of-the-art of ombudsman research. It uses new empirical studies and competing theoretical explanations to critically examine important aspects of the ombudsman’s work. This comprehensive Handbook is of value to academics designing future ombudsman studies and practitioners and policymakers in understanding the future challenges of the ombudsman.
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Chapter 16: What can government learn from the ombudsman?

Chris Gill


The idea that government agencies should learn from the work of ombudsman schemes is widespread. It is also an area of activity on which many ombudsman schemes are laying increasing emphasis. This chapter examines the potential for government agencies to learn from the ombudsman. It begins by discussing some of the well-established challenges around learning in public bureaucracies, before providing an analysis of normative debates around the limits of the ombudsman’s role, and the institutional assets and liabilities it possesses in fulfilling that role. The chapter then uses two contrasting case studies to illustrate different ways in which ombudsman schemes seek to prompt governmental learning. The chapter ends by examining empirical studies and reflecting on the methodological challenges surrounding assessments of the ombudsman’s learning role.

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