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Valuing the Transfer of Citizens’ Nonadministrative Knowledge to Government: Insights from Political Philosophy

PAQ, Vol. 43 No. 2, (2019)

This theory-building essay aims to conceptually articulate the valuing of the transfer of citizens’ nonadministrative knowledge to government. Two ways of valuing, instrumental and normative, are identified and examined in public administration literature. I argue that public administration lacks an understanding of the distinctive normative or democratic significance of citizens’ nonadministrative knowledge. To fill this gap, selected critical theory, postmodern, and pragmatist philosophical approaches to the valuing of citizens’ knowledge are examined in relation to two kinds of knowledge transfer in citizen- government exchanges: administrator knowledge transfer and citizen knowledge transfer. The review suggests that the normative valuing of citizen knowledge transfer requires the empirical and proactive examination of contemporary forms of citizens’ knowledge; that administrator and citizen knowledge transfers should be investigated as interconnected phenomena in an integrative approach, which implies a greater attention to conflict over knowledge; and that the greater normative valuing of citizen knowledge transfer could stimulate its instrumental valuing.

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