From practitioner wisdom to scholarly knowledge and back again



The relationship between scholarly knowledge in public management and the conventional wisdom of capable practitioners needs to be clarified. If we accept that improving practical wisdom is the ultimate objective of scholarly studies in public management, practitioner experience can usefully serve as the starting point of such studies as well. This article uses the maxims about coping with “overhead agencies” supplied by one respected practitioner, Gordon Chase, as a source of ideas concerning the direction of scholarly work. It also conceptualizes three types of practitioner wisdom—rules, principles, and checklists—and advises academic researchers to concentrate on clarifying the conceptualization of the principles and checklists and empirically refining the rules. A focus on those rules that protect the practitioner against large downside risks is especially important.