Wisdom in public administration: Looking for a sociology of wise practice

David Rooney*, Bernard McKenna

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores a sociological account of practical wisdom in public administrations. Very little research on contemporary applications of wisdom exists, and what research there is has a cognitive bias, largely ignoring sociology. For public organizations to create the conditions for wise practice within themselves and within individual administrators, an understanding of the social relational structures and processes that build and sustain practical wisdom is crucial. Furthermore, given that there is an aesthetic dimension to practical wisdom, an aesthetics-based approach to sociology of organizational wisdom provides a useful starting point in this sociological project. Aesthetics raises important issues of communicative action and discourse that address social relations and their structures and processes. Finally, a research agenda that explores these structural and processual issues in public administration is canvassed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)709-721
Number of pages13
JournalPublic Administration Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


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