In this paper, a first attempt is made to give more insight into the challenges for knowledge management of governance processes. Therefore a perspective on knowledge management inspired by complexity theory is developed and applied on a specific governance project in the Netherlands. It seems to be that complexity theory can offer interesting insights in order to understand the fundamental changes we can see in the way ‘government governs’ our society. After all, governance approaches are intended to mobilise different actors with different interests and frames of references in an interactive process that is located on the boundaries of traditional organisations and institutions. These processes are in essence self-organising (Pierry en Peters, 2000). In its applied form, complexity theory gives handsome insights to understand ‘governance’ (cf. Kiel, 1994). It gives us also insight in the way knowledge for governance is created and how knowledge management can be filled in, in situations of complexity and chaos. This perspective upon knowledge management for governance is in this paper confronted with two other perspectives, a rational and an argumentative perspective. An empirical illustration is given by analysing the Dutch Communities of Practice approach in spatial planning.

complexity theory, governance, government, knowledge management, policy making, public-private networks
Department of Public Administration

van Buuren, M.W. (2006). Knowledge management for governance: public-private communities of practice and the challenge of co-evolution. Retrieved from