«Public Administration Issues» Journal,

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Higher School of Economics
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Major Indexing

Research and educational journal
Published quarterly since 2007
ISSN 1999-5431
E-ISSN 2409-5095

Palina Prysmakova 1
  • 1 Ph.D, Assistant Professor, School of Public Administration, Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Rd, Boca Raton, FL 333431, USA

Breaking Iron Channels of International Learning: Adopting Mead’s Typolog y to the Seoul Metropolitan Government

2015. No. 5. P. 111–128 [issue contents]

The main purpose of the study is to refresh the theory of institutional and organizational learning by applying knowledge from anthropology to public administration. Empirical evidence drawn from South Korea’s capital city supports the applicability of Margaret Mead’s typology of knowledge transfer among generations. Similar to human beings, once grown-up and developed, cities are ready to give lessons to their teachers. First-hand and secondary data from the lesson-drawing habits of Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) explains learning paths from the United States and other developed countries and back. The study also illustrates an integral component of learning from peers, when SMG benchmarks best practices from cities in other developing countries.

Supported by the example of American-Korean relations, SMG’s case confirms previous theoretical propositions that the old-established channels of learning are hard to break when they are rooted in history and culture, and, thus, in line with the tastes of the electorate and the private preferences of governmental offi cials. Meanwhile, the study also shows that the era of knowledge transfer exclusively from parents to children is over. Seoul has applied enormous eff ort/completed enormous work to establish itself as a benchmarkable model internationally.

The study has a practical application as it offers an outline of programs and instruments that can be used by an agency for successful benchmarking from abroad. The study is original in the way it combines organizational theories, comparative public administration and anthropology. Being of an exploratory nature, the current research tests Mead’s typology that can be further applied in different countries.


Prismakova, P. (2015). Breaking Iron Channels of International Learning: Adopting Mead’s Typology to the Seoul Metropolitan Government. Public Administration Issue, n. 5, Special Issue, pp. (in English).

ISSN 1999-5431
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