Edited by Marc Hertogh and Richard Kirkham
Chapter 26: What’s in a name? A discussion paper on ombud terminology
This chapter explores two aspects of terminology used by, and in relation to, ombuds. The first is the multiplicity of terms used by ombuds to describe the informal resolution processes they use, an issue highlighted in empirical research on ombuds in the UK and Ireland. We argue that the lack of precision in the meaning of the terms used may reflect a lack of clarity in complaint-handling processes and result in confusion for those who use ombuds. The second aspect is the prevalent use, in the UK, of 'ombudsman' as a title for the office as well as the office-holder and the disconnect between the insistence on a title that is not gender neutral and the principles and values which the work of ombuds should embody. We explore the history and etymology of 'ombudsman' and examples of title change through legislation, and we query the robustness of using brand recognition as an argument against change in the UK.
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