Get access

Public Administration Scholarship and the Politics of Coproducing Academic–Practitioner Research


Kevin Orr is professor of public sector management and codirector of the Centre for Organizational Futures at Hull University Business School, United Kingdom. His research interests include leadership, traditions, and learning in public sector organizations. He serves on the international editorial board of Management Learning and on the Executive Committee of the Organizational Learning, Knowledge and Capabilities international research community.

Mike Bennett is director of Public Intelligence in the United Kingdom. He is a former co-managing director of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (UK) and editorial director of the SOLACE Foundation Imprint. He is a former member of the Public Management and Policy Association's executive committee and in 2007 was elected a member of the Royal Society of the Arts.


Developing greater cooperation between researchers and practitioners is a long-standing concern in social science. Academics and practitioners working together to coproduce research offers a number of potential gains for public administration scholarship, but it also raises some dilemmas. The benefits include bringing local knowledge to bear on the field, making better informed policy, and putting research to better use. However, coproduction of research also involves managing ambiguous loyalties, reconciling different interests, and negotiating competing goals. The authors reflect on their experience of coproducing a research project in the United Kingdom and discuss the challenges that coproducers of research confront. They situate the discussion within a consideration of traditions of public administration scholarship and debates about the role of the academy to understand better the politics of their joint practice. Thinking about the politics of coproduction is timely and enables the authors to become more attuned to the benefits and constraints of this mode of research..