Managing contested spaces: public managers, obscured mechanisms and the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland

Year published: 2017

Managing contested spaces: public managers, obscured mechanisms and the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland (PDF 371 KB)

Abstract
Societies emerging from ethno-political and inter-communal conflict face a range of
complex problems that stem directly from the recent lived experience of bloodshed and
injury, militarisation, securitisation and segregation. As institutional agents in such an
environment, public managers perform the dual role of both interpreting public policy
and implementing it within a politically contested space and place. In this article we
address how managers cope with the outworking of ethno-nationalist conflict and peace
building within government processes and policy implementation and contend this is a
subject of emerging concern within the wider public administration, urban studies and
conflict literature. Using data from a witness seminar initiative on the Northern Ireland
conflict transformation experience, we explain how public sector managers make sense
of their role in post-agreement public management and highlight the importance of
three identified mechanisms; ‘bricolage’, ‘diffusion’ and ‘translation’ in the
management of public sector organisations and urban spaces in a context of entrenched
conflict and an uncertain path to peace.
Key words: Conflict transformation,