In Research


Year: 2019
Published in: Public Administration
Cited as: Teasdale, S. and P. Dey (2019). “Neoliberal governing through social enterprise: Exploring the neglected roles of deviance and ignorance in public value creation.” Public Administration 97(2): 325-338.


This article makes a case for paying greater attention to how informal relationships between government officials and civil society practitioners impact processes of public value creation. Drawing on data from a five-year qualitative longitudinal study, we illuminate how civil society practitioners deviate from the formal objectives of social enterprise policies in order to create what they see as having public value. Through a process of theory elaboration, we demonstrate how government officials’ wilful ignorance of, or informal collaboration in, such deviance, precipitates forms of public value that are consistent with wider political objectives. Our analysis adds nuance and granularity to the debate on public value by drawing attention to the arcane ways it may be informally negotiated and created outside of the public sphere. This opens up new empirical and theoretical opportunities for understanding how deviance and ignorance might be symbiotically related in processes of public value creation


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Future Research

Future research should:
1) Explore the prevalence of different combinations of deviance and ignorance in contexts more conducive to integrative public leadership.
2) Seek to better understand the role of politicians, politics, and administrators in such clandestine forms of leadership, and particularly their interactions with practitioners.
3) Explore how political ideas are translated into public value via complex chains of interactions (probably) involving deviance and ignorance at many points in the chain. The ethnographic methods may be better suited to uncover how practitioners creatively bend and appropriate governmental policies and techniques, the extent to which government officials and policy-makers are aware of such deviance, and, in particular, the interplay between CSO practitioners and government officials in shaping these hidden spaces.