June 14, 2012

Taxonomy of Ombuds Excludes Organizational Ombuds

An article in the latest issue of the Canadian Public Administration Journal observes that, “world-wide diffusion of the ombudsman concept and the accompanying academic literature have failed to produce a universal definition of ‘ombudsman.’” Author Sabine Carl attempts to provide a taxonomy of the different kinds of ombudsmen in place today.

Nonetheless and in spite of the broad scope of her article, she summarily dismisses any consideration of Organizational Ombuds:
The Ombudsman Association (TOA) created the term organizational ombudsman and uses it to define all non-legislative ombudsmen. [citation]  Donald Rowat (2007) rightly states that it is meaningless, for legislative ombudsmen are just as much a part of an organization and are thus “organizational.” The term is consequently excluded from further discussion and representation in the taxonomy. 

The article does cite papers by notable Organizational Ombuds Kevin Jessar and Sara Thacker. (Toward a Definition and Taxonomy of Public Sector Ombudsmen.)


  1. In essence, a proposal to define and categorize all ombudsmen specifically excludes a growing branch of the profession simply because the label ("organizational") is imperfect. That seems intellectually dishonest and implies an underlying animosity.

  2. B.F.D.
    I've never heard of the Canadian Public Administration Journal and Rowat's opinion is no secret.
    This seems like a non-issue.
    -Angry Ombuds