Operationalizing inclusive growth: can malleable ideas survive metricized governance?

Clementine Hill O'Connor, Katherine Smith, Ceri Hughes, Petra Meier, Robin Purshouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Advocates of inclusive growth claim it provides policymakers with a means of combining economic success with social inclusivity, making it highly attractive across a wide range of settings. Here, we explore how three UK policy organizations (a devolved national government, a city region combined authority, and a local council) are pursuing inclusive growth goals. Drawing on 51 semistructured interviews, documentary analysis and policy ethnography, we argue that inclusive growth is a classic "chameleonic idea," strategically imbued with malleable qualities that serve to obscure substantive, unresolved tensions. These characteristics are helpful in achieving alliances, both within policy organizations and between these organizations and their multiple stakeholders. However, these same qualities make inclusive growth challenging to operationalize, especially in governance settings dominated by metrics. The process of representing a malleable idea via a set of metricized indicators involves simplification and stabilization, both of which risk disrupting the fragile coalitions that malleability enables.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalPublic Administration
Early online date13 Feb 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Feb 2023


  • social inclusivity
  • metricized indicators
  • Inclusive growth


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