Institutional Memory and Collaborative Governance – Is it Possible to Have Both?

Stream: Panel 88 - Public Policy & Social Justice: Innovation in Policymaking 
Date: Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Time: 1.30 pm – 3.00 pm


One of the core functions of a permanent public service within a Westminster system is to act as the keeper of institutional memory of how government works, transcending the shorter-term political timeframes of election cycles. Scholars and practitioners alike are expressing increasing concern that the capacity to capture and maintain institutional memory is diminishing in the face of factors such as position churn, constant restructuring, and changes in digital technology. This paper seeks to extend our understanding of what institutional memory means in a modern governance environment by reflecting on the early findings of an ANZSOG-funded project on institutional memory in collaborative governance contexts. Drawing on a wide range of literatures – including that on collaborative governance, policy transfer, and public sector leadership – we argue that institutional memory needs to become as dynamic as the governance environment in which it operates if it is to be able to meaningfully capture and retain the lessons from past successes and failures.


Dennis Grube, University of Tasmania

Rodney Scott (Presenter), Adjunct Senior Lecturer UNSW/Adjunct Research Fellow ANZSOG

Jack Corbett, University of Southampton

Heather Lovell, University of Tasmania

Thomas Butler, University of Tasmania