Neoliberal governing through social enterprise: Exploring the neglected roles of deviance and ignorance in public value creation

Simon Teasdale, Pascal Dey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article makes a case for paying greater attention to how informal relationships between government officials and civil society practitioners impact processes of public value creation. Drawing on data from a five-year qualitative longitudinal study, we illuminate how civil society practitioners deviate from the formal objectives of social enterprise policies in order to create what they see as having public value. Through a process of theory elaboration, we demonstrate how government officials’ wilful ignorance of, or informal collaboration in, such deviance, precipitates forms of public value that are consistent with wider political objectives. Our analysis adds nuance and granularity to the debate on public value by drawing attention to the arcane ways it may be informally negotiated and created outside of the public sphere. This opens up new empirical and theoretical opportunities for understanding how deviance and ignorance might be symbiotically related in processes of public value creation.”.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-338
Number of pages14
JournalPublic Administration
Issue number2
Early online date27 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019



  • governmentality
  • social enterprise
  • deviance
  • ignorance
  • public value

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