Sample Material of Current Public Administration Magazine
The Future of Public Administration around the World: The
The Minnowbrook Conference, held every twenty years, is one of the most
significant academic conferences in public administration in the United States.
Minnowbrook I, which took place in 1968 at Minnowbrook, Syracuse University’s
conference centre, marked the beginning of the ‘New Public Administration’.
Minnowbrook II, which took place in 1988, reflected on the impact of the ‘New
Public Administration’. Both Minnowbrook I and Minnowbrook II resulted in
significant, historic, publications. This article (and the book of the same
title) presents the best of Minnowbrook III, held in late 2008.
Minnowbrook III was organised in two phases on the theme ‘The Future of Public
Administration, Public Management and Public Service around the World’. Phase
One, a pre-conference workshop that included fifty-five participants at the
original Minnowbrook site on Blue Mountain Lake, New York, was for scholars who
had completed their PhD programmes within the previous ten years. Phase Two,
which directly followed the new scholars’ event, was held in Lake Placid, New
York, for scholars and practitioners of all ages and degrees of experience. The
Lake Placid group included at least thirty veterans of Minnowbrook I and/or
Minnowbrook II. A total of 200 scholars and practitioners from thirteen
countries participated in Minnowbrook III. The Minnowbrook III conference was
the most demographically and internationally diverse gathering of public
administration scholars of the three meetings over the last forty years. Little
doubt existed among those in attendance that the next gathering, to be held in
2028, would be even more diverse and internationally representative.
The outcomes of both phases of Minnowbrook III involved analyses of the
current state and future direction of the field. The topics explored and debated
included: making public administration scholarship relevant;
academic-practitioner relations; collaborative governance; democratic
performance management; financial management; globalisation/comparative
perspectives; information technology and management; law, politics and public
administration; leadership; methods of inquiry; interdisciplinary research;
networks; public administration values and theory; social equity and justice;
transparency and accountability; the training of the next generation of public
servants. An example of one output of Minnowbrook III may be found in the
‘Statement of Commitment for New Public Administration Scholars’ (see box).
The two phases of the Minnowbrook III experience provide a useful analytical
heuristic for understanding the evolution of the scholarly side of the field, as
well as a set of benchmarks against which to measure the relevance of public
administration scholarship in the future. Minnowbrook III participants
recognised a need to evaluate what works and what does not, before offering
broad, untested theories and recommendations. The future, as represented by
Minnowbrook III participants, clearly lies in a more global approach to thinking
about institutions and the work of public administrators.
Public Administration Going Global
The most prevalent and important issue addressed at Minnowbrook III was the
impact of globalisation on the field. This is the most important change since
Minnowbrook II, and certainly since Minnowbrook I. Public administration as a
field of academic study has gone through several stages since its inception;
globalisation has posed unprecedented challenges, and it is not an exaggeration
to say that globalisation has caused a revolution in public administration in
terms of increased studies in comparative public management, more public policy
research that crosses international boundaries, and the increased role of
international organisations in governance.
Minnowbrook III participants illustrate concrete examples concerning how
comparative public administration research and practice have responded, and
continue to respond, to the challenges of globalisation. Some authors propose
the integration of a global perspective in public administration scholarship.
Other authors contribute to the volume by analysing a growing number of
international organisations and regional networks of public administration that
influence more comparative studies on good governance, government effectiveness,
the New Public Management, government reforms and transparency in developed and
developing countries. And a number of scholars underscored the demand for
scholarship that emphasises comparative public administration with a global
perspective for the twenty-first century.
The insights and analyses presented by these academics call for scholars in
public administration to engage in critical dialogue on issues concerning the
development of rigorous research methods for comparative studies with a global
perspective. This, of course, is nothing new. What is new is how far-reaching
the global perspective has become in the field. It is difficult to find a public
administration scholar anywhere in the world today who does not have some sort
of comparative experience or perspective.
Evolving from Government to Governance
Discussions and debates at Minnowbrook III centred on the fact that
governance in many countries is changing from hierarchical and stovepiped
orientations with government as the dominant actor to more networked forms of
governance. In the latter form, government is an important institutional actor,
but not the only or most important one. Governance forms and functions are
evolving and they manifest themselves and their connectedness to others through
networks, contracts and a range of information technology innovations. At the
same time, scholars of public administration are examining new and complex
questions about authority, responsibility, the rule of law and citizen
engagement. These are representative of current inquiry. What these new forms of
governance suggest is that collaboration is the required norm, and that power is
becoming diffused through a number of institutional mechanisms and policy
instruments. As a result, ‘new’ managerial tools – such as facilitation,
negotiation, collaborative problem solving and dispute resolution – are taking
on heightened prominence.
Accordingly, a different type of professional training and education will be
needed to prepare public administrators to work with a range of institutional
and individual actors and across governance domains and sectoral boundaries.
Emerging from these governance changes is a field of public administration
practice that is becoming more professionalised than in the past in terms of
systems, processes and tools. Professionalisation, however, does not connote
increased democratisation. Rather, governance is taking shape across political
forms, philosophies, cultures and citizenship. Some of those forms seek more
active citizen engagement and participation, while others are evolving toward
that state in only the most incremental of steps. This is one indication that
while governance has become more global, diverse, and represented by complex
governing arrangements and values, it is also a departure from the long dominant
norms embedded in Western notions of democratic governance. These changes will
require more research and engagement between scholars and with practitioners and
fundamental changes to teaching the next generation of leaders: They may very
well be topics on the agenda at the Minnowbrook IV Conference in 2028.
The Future of Public Administration Around the World: The Minnowbrook
Perspective is organised into six parts containing twenty-seven chapters written
by seventeen seasoned scholars and twenty new scholars. The chapters in part I
focus on the public organisations of the future. The possibility of a global
paradigm is addressed in the chapters in part II. The chapters in part III
concern twenty-first-century collaborative governance. The chapters in part IV
analyse trends in deliberative democracy and public participation. The
challenges of teaching the next generation of leaders are tackled in part V.
Finally, the chapters in part VI return to an enduring Minnowbrook theme: the
challenge of remaining relevant. The book’s conclusion closes with an essay
reflecting on the field of public administration, weaving in the critiques of
conference plenary speakers, and analysing the mix of enduring issues to which
the field keeps returning, coupled with new emerging issues and challenges.
Taken as a whole, the ideas in this book push readers to think about the
past, present and future of public administration. The place, tradition, ideas,
spirit, gatherings and challenges of Minnowbrook are historic and one of a kind.
What makes this book different – and, we argue, relevant – to those who work in
and study public administration is that it is both historical and forward
looking, with contributions from some of the field’s established, senior leaders
and a number of new scholars who are or will become leaders in the discipline.
Therefore, the perspectives, using history as one set of evaluation criteria,
are based on experience, present new thinking and also set forth questions and
propositions about where the field could be – and in many cases should be –
headed in the near term. These perspectives help frame the future of a field
that has achieved a great deal, but which still has a significant distance to
Statement of Commitment for New Public Administration Scholars
As we reflect on the state of Public Administration today, we feel that our
strength is the diversity of disciplines, methods, theories and approaches that
we bring to public problems. However, we believe that the future of public
administration is limited by the institutional and personal barriers that
researchers and scholars confront in their work. We recognise these barriers as:
institutional incentives for promotion and tenure, curricular limitations (such
as budgetary incentives to restrict interdisciplinary approaches), publication
issues (including editor consistency, reviewer supply and reviewer timeliness),
limited funding for PA research and the challenge of conducting international
and comparative public administration research.
We, the new scholars at Minnowbrook III, commit to serve as change agents to
uphold and shape the culture of Public Administration, a culture that is open
minded to and appreciative of multiple theoretical and methodological
perspectives, with an emphasis on ‘publicness’. To achieve this goal, we commit
to do the following:
In the research process we will . . .
- Expand our discipline’s acceptance of various units of analysis (local,
state, national and international actors; government, non-profit and private
organisations; individuals at various levels of organisational hierarchy;
stakeholders and citizens).
- Create a research environment that promotes the sharing of data and
collaboration among our colleagues to advance the availability of quality
data within our field.
- Acknowledge the limitations of our research methods and design in order
to provide direction for future research and to avoid foreclosing questions
that merit further attention.
In the classroom and community we will . . .
- Strive to create research based tools that reinforce the utility of a
- Promote rigorous research methodological training and the use of mixed
methods (qualitative and quantitative).
- Invest appropriate time in sharing knowledge with practitioners.
- Cultivate the ability among practitioners to reflect in the moment and
adapt when faced with complexity.
In the publication process we will . . .
- Strive to publish relevant work (for practice and/or theory).
- Expand our field’s use and appreciation of cross-disciplinary theory,
while emphasising the role of ‘publicness’.
- Seek to promote the inclusion of multiple methods and rigorous methods
of all types.
- Review research within the paradigm in which they were conducted.
SOURCE: Institute of Public Governance & Management Institute of Public
Governance & Management
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