Forskning ved Københavns Universitet - Københavns Universitet


Policy, Profession and Public Management: Conflict or Coherence?

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskningfagfællebedømt

Policy, Profession and Public Management: Conflict or Coherence?

Gitte Balling, Assistant Professor, PhD. Email
Nanna Kann-Christensen, Associate Professor, PhD. Email:
Royal School of Library and Information Science
Birketinget 6
DK-2300 Copenhagen S
T +45 32 58 60 66
The aim of this paper is to contribute to the establishment of a theoretically based understanding of the role that cultural policy plays in the way literature promotion is practiced in Danish public libraries. More specifically we aim at refining a model that integrates different issues which interact with notions of literature promotion. The model was originally developed in connection to an empirical study of how literature promoters argue for literature promotion and the effects of literature promotion in public libraries (Balling & Kann-Christensen, 2010). The model consists of three interconnected concerns that relates to literature promotion. Besides cultural policy we regard the logics of New Public Management (NPM) and professional logics in the field of public libraries. Cultural policy along with the identification of underlying logics present among politicians, government officials, managers and librarians/promoters of literature, is an important part of creating an understanding of literature promotion in Danish libraries.

The basic premise for the development of the model is that cultural policy has an important part to play when it comes to the understanding of the purpose of literature promotion and other activities in public libraries, but that cultural policy must be seen in some kind of interaction with the logics of profession and NPM. These interactions or relations are the key objects of analysis in this paper.

Our research question therefore concerns how Cultural policy, Profession and NPM conflicts or coheres. In order to be able to develop qualitative descriptions of the potential conflicts and or coherence we focus specifically on two key issues in literature promotion in libraries: quality and user orientation.

A concept of quality can be identified in the library profession as well as in any given cultural policy. One can argue that efficiency and high output measures will always be an indicator of quality in NPM logic. In our previous study (Balling & Kann-Christensen, 2010) we identified “the user” as the primary argument for literature promotional activities. Therefore it makes sense to focus on quality and user orientation in our study. Below we present the model, as it was developed in our previous research.
Policy, Profession and Public Management

P for Policy: Cultural policy and logics in arts advocacy
The development of cultural policy in Denmark is usually understood through the concept of rationales. In two influential articles, Skot-Hansen has argued that cultural policy since the 1960s has developed from a humanistic rationale as the principal argument, over a sociological rationale to the emerging of an instrumental rationale in the 80s (Skot-Hansen, 1999, 2005). In Skot-Hansens latest model (Skot-Hansen, 2006) she refines her own theory and creates an understanding of cultural policy where all guidelines and activities serves a purpose and therefore can be seen as instrumental. Nevertheless new concepts such as experience and entertainment have emerged in the cultural sector. This transforms cultural policies and therefore also literature promotion in the direction of more user involvement and user acknowledgement. A similar understanding can be found in the work by Joli Jensen (2003) on arts advocacy. Jensen introduces the concept of instrumental logic versus expressive logic and connects it to the concept of aesthetic experiences. According to Jensen the instrumental logic is closely connected to a traditional, elitist and excluding approach to art advocacy, with a clear distinction between “good” and “bad” culture. Arts advocacy with focus on an expressive logic, on the other hand, is defined by tolerance and inclusiveness both regarding forms of culture, types of aesthetic experiences and regarding participants.
P for Profession: Professional logics
The librarian profession has been analyzed and described several places. Some researchers have focused on the stereotype (Radford & Radford, 2003) others on the library profession (Elbeshausen & Schreiber, 2006). During the last 30 years, librarian’s orientation towards their users’ needs and preferences has evolved and has gradually become institutionalized. For instance, Jochumsen & Hvenegaard Rasmussen (2006b) analyze Danish public library periodicals from 1964 up until today. They show that among librarians, a certain discourse and attitude towards users has evolved from an unambiguous (elitist) concept of quality to be presented to users towards a wish to get in touch with the public on their terms (a sort of cultural democracy). Another study relevant for this research show that librarian logics can both be in conflict and in harmony with NPM logics (Kann-Christensen, 2009).
P for Public management: Customer orientation and visibility
It is a commonly accepted fact that libraries today must tend to the visibility, competition and performance measurements in order to be successful. These demands are in different ways related to the concept of New Public Management, but can also be viewed as general demands in the late modern society (Jochumsen & Hvenegaard Rasmussen, 2006a; Kann-Christensen & Andersen, 2009; Buschman, 2003). NPM is based on a belief that competition among institutions will improve the quality of the services they provide. Consequently public libraries become subject to measurement, evaluation, comparison, etc. The underlying intent of these efforts is to make production and use of resources in the public sector more controllable, legitimate and transparent (Jarlov & Melander, 2005). In cultural policy studies NPM has been criticized for focusing on quantitative output such as lending rates instead of focusing on the impact of cultural activities in society (Belfiore, 2004).
Theoretical perspectives
In order to investigate how Policy, Public management and Professional logics interplay in the field of public libraries, this paper uses an institutional perspective. Institutional theory is concerned with the field level. The concept of institutional logics is well suited in relation with studies of change and development in a field. Thornton & Ocasio (2008) define institutional logics as socially constructed patterns of practices, assumptions and rules that individuals use to produce and reproduce their surroundings. Institutional logics supports the understanding of how various topics have meaning in a field, as they determine how various factors within the field acquire attention (Thornton & Ocasio, 2008). It is suitable to use the concept of institutional logics in order to understand the relationship between policy, public management and profession in the field of public libraries, because the field is both homogenous, but also characterized by conflicting logics (Kann-Christensen, 2009).

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StatusUdgivet - 2011
BegivenhedThe Fifth Nordic Conference on Cultural Policy Research - Norrköping, Sverige
Varighed: 24 aug. 201126 aug. 2011


KonferenceThe Fifth Nordic Conference on Cultural Policy Research

ID: 47060143