Dealing with Wicked Problems in Public Administration

Andrew Massey


This article addresses an approach to explore and tackle some of the existential threats (wicked problems) that face public administration globally. It seeks to build on existing work to suggest some defining traits in terms of ‘wicked’ issues and problems that are being explored again by governments and international organizations such as the OECD in order to develop leadership cadres that are equipped to advance and deliver focused policies that can strategically combat these problems. The paper discusses how and why an innovative and indeed entrepreneurial approach to dealing with these issues requires effective bureaucracies and explores the barriers to public administration academics to getting involved in delivering real world support to policy makers and public servants.


public administration; wicked problems; public service reform; bureaucracy; innovative state.

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