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Evolving connective capacities of program management in complex governance processes

Jean-Marie Buijs

In the field of the physical environment, public managers perceive fragmentation between

projects and policies as problematic. This fragmentation leads to complexity and coherence

challenges for program management. This PhD thesis analyses how program management

uses its connective capacities to cope with such complexity. The cases Policy with Citizens

and Amsterdam Metropolitan Region show how program managements’ connective

capacities evolve in relation to projects and strategic networks. It then concludes that

program management continuously searches for a temporal equilibrium in managing

interdependencies. This means that e.g. in project selection strategies, program management

balances between 1) relating to a high variety of projects and 2) connecting with major

projects to create impact. The effect of each strategy depends on the interaction of

fragmented elements in governance processes. Finally, this thesis provides

recommendations for public managers coping with complexity. Public managers need to

consider program management as a distinctive approach and an adaptive arrangement in

complex governance processes. Program managements’ connective capacities can deliver

added value in these processes through e.g. reciprocal disciplining and adaptation between

multiple actors in regional development. It is also recommended to program management to

vary leadership styles to match the need for connective capacity.

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