Learning to manage public service organizations better: A scenario for teaching public administration

In the context of public value, it is argued that there is a need to adopt the learning organization philosophy to manage public service organizations better. For collaborative work with public sector managers or in management education, a fictitious scenario is presented to develop the concept of the learning organization as paradox. Faced with multiple and conflicting demands, public managers find it difficult to change organizational behavior in response to new knowledge. The scenario demonstrates how learning organization philosophy can be used to translate new knowledge into new behaviors. Key skills required for public managers to exploit the knowledge of all organizational members and confront the challenges of a contested concept, such as public value, are developed and comprise: summarizing evidence; making judgements, sharing thought processes on a contentious issue, and arriving at a consensus together. Contributions to public administration theory and practice are discussed.