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Book Review

Irregular Governance:

Irregular Governance:

by Ruth Hubbard, Gilles Paquet

A Plea for Bold Organizational Experimentation

Irregular governance pertains to the exploration and design of unusual or, at least, less habitual forms of governance in order to deal more effectively with emerging forms of turbulence and complexity. This capacity to transform depends on the constant arrival on the scene of the right sort of new actors, new structures and new social technologies.

Yet our democratic systems are rooted in administrative conservatorship: too many public administrators conceive their role less as serving their political masters than as preserving institutions in a manner consistent with traditions that supposedly need to be maintained. This elusive self-granted mandate is quite empowering for public administrators, since they argue that they, and their academic colleagues, are the sole group authorized to define what is to be preserved and why.

This book is a challenge to administrative conservatorship. It highlights promising initiatives and perilous ones. It makes the case for ombudspersons and against super-bureaucrats, for public-private partnerships and against single-purpose agencies, and for innovation and against the reluctance to adopt effective management tools.

A case is made for irreverence vis-à-vis traditional arrangements, and for experimentation and prototyping of new governing arrangements to be actively pursued. It is argued that organizations and socio-economies need to be progressive (in the new sense of having a greater capacity to transform) and antifragile (becoming ever more creative in dealing with avalanches as they get exposed to nastier shocks).

Ruth Hubbard is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre on Governance of the University of Ottawa. She served for more than a decade as a federal deputy minister in the Government of Canada.
Gilles Paquet is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre on Governance of the University of Ottawa, and Editor of For more information, see

Table of Contents

Introduction Beyond Conservatorship
Part I New Mediating Actors
Chapter 1 Ombuds as Producers of Governance: Initiative I
Gilles Paquet
Chapter 2 Superbureaucrats as enfants du siècle: Peril I
Gilles Paquet
Part II New Structural Forms
Chapter 3 P3 and the ‘Porcupine’ Problem: Initiative II
Ruth Hubbard and Gilles Paquet
Chapter 4 Single-purpose Entities in a Multiplex World: Peril II
Ruth Hubbard and Gilles Paquet
Part III New Social Technologies
Chapter 5 Innovation as Redesign: Initiative III
Ruth Hubbard and Gilles Paquet
Chapter 6 The Management Vacuum: Peril III
Ruth Hubbard and Gilles Paquet
Conclusion The Case for Irreverence and Experimentation

You can purchase a copy of this book through or and
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