TRAPPED IN THE HIERARCHY: The craft of Dutch city managers
Dorp, G.H. van
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The position of top public managers implies management in three directions: up (accessing authorizing environment), down (creating organizational capacity), and out (boundary spanning). We know however, little about what these public managers do. This article draws on research on managerial work and behavior to present a close-up analysis of four Dutch city managers using diary analysis, ethnographic observations (182 hours of shadowing), and 35 interviews with (elite) stakeholders. The analysis interprets the craft of senior public executives in terms of managing up, down, and out. It finds that despite the contemporary emphasis on the importance of network governance and collaborative public management, the prevalence of boundary spanning activities in top managers’ activity pattern is easily overestimated. Working up and down in the governmental hierarchy still consumes most of the managers’ attention. By comparison, network management occupies a modest place in how they enact their role. Moreover, the networks of choice are almost exclusively inter-governmental; engagement with (networks of) community and corporate actors is virtually non-existent.