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Do unto others: on the importance of reciprocity in public administration

Oliver, Adam (2017) Do unto others: on the importance of reciprocity in public administration. American Review of Public Administration. ISSN 0275-0740

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0275074016686826


There is an extensive literature across the humanities and social sciences on reciprocity as a fundamental driver of human behaviour, and yet attempts to bring the main arguments from the diverse literatures together in a single interdisciplinary space remain scarce. This article aims to collate many of the main arguments from these literatures with the intention of speculating how reciprocity might be used to inform institutional structures, management practices and public policy. This is significant, because the recent literature on public sector policy design tends to attach import to entirely self-regarding and/or altruistic motivations as fundamental drivers of human action, but, with some notable exceptions, says little directly on the role that reciprocity might have to play in motivating performance improvements. The lack of attention paid to reciprocity in the literature on human motivation and public policy design is problematic if one concludes that reciprocating behaviours are a major determinant of group cooperation and success.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 The Author
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2016 10:45
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 15:43

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