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 26: What’s in a name? A discussion paper on ombud terminology

Varda Bondy and Margaret Doyle

Abstract

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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