A global perspective on public administration? The dynamics shaping the field and what it means for teaching and learning

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Public administration is at an inflection point as public institutions come under increasing pressure, the challenges that confront us rapidly intensify, and social movements demand transformative change. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how critical public administration is in addressing many of the world’s challenges, and has placed questions of the role of the state and how we go about the work of government front and centre (O’Flynn, 2021). What this means for the field of public administration is profound; not just in terms of the contours of public administration research and how we engage with practice, but also how and what we teach. It is especially through teaching and learning that the thinking and action of those in public service is shaped.1 Some are calling for a new ‘manifesto of government’, arguing government is ‘broken’ and based on an industrial model and mindset that seeks to manage and control, rather than access the collective potential to tackle complex challenges (Brown, 2019). Others make the case that there has been too much focus on developing narrow technical skills (Anheier, 2018), or on policy analysis rather than implementation (Fukuyama, 2018). Debates about where the field should go next reflect a broadening and deepening of perspectives: for example, integrative governance (Carboni et al., 2019), human learning systems (Lowe, 2021), and humble government (Annala et al., 2020) offer unique perspectives. Aspects of each stress a move away from rational, dehumanising aspects of traditional (Western) public administration and new public management, instead stressing aspects such as complexity, hybridity, problem focus, learning, relationality, and humility. There is an associated call for ‘better’ problem-solving government, rather than government which is bigger or smaller (Noveck, 2021a). The future of the field will demand broader and more diverse sets of skills, knowledge, and values to serve the public effectively (Dickinson et al., 2018), a trend that should shape teaching and learning.
    Original languageEnglish
    Editors Karin A. Bottom
    Place of PublicationMassachusetts
    PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
    ISBN (Print)978 1 80037 569 7
    Publication statusPublished - 2022


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