Tag Archives: joint university council

Some links and research on teaching of public administration

I’ve been really surprised by the response to a recent Tweet of mine about the state of public administration teaching in the UK.

This Tweet was stimulated by a brief conversation I had with an academic at another UK business school. They were raising the fact that public administration was not taught at their institution. This is a very common picture which has been researched widely within the UK public administration community. I’ve also heard anecdotal stories from academics suggesting that there is a hostility towards anything public sector related. One such story was that a senior academic was told not to even mention the words ‘public sector’.

This contrasts with my own experience. I work at Northumbria University where there is a long history of public administration teaching and research. Currently I teach on our MSc Strategic Leadership for Public Services programme and supervise three doctoral students who are all exploring issues related to the public sector. We also have one of the largest cohorts of public administration scholars in the UK. More on how we are leading the public administration revival here.

Debates around the nature of the subject often centre around the nature and legacy of New Public Management (NPM). This was a theoretical approach which suggested that business techniques could (and even should) be applied to the public sector in order to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. Many of the central arguments of NPM have since been debunked.

Yet issues related to the unique public service context are often not fully considered in teaching of business and management. This is despite the public sector making up c.17% of UK employment and c.35% of GDP. It also fails to recognise that the private sector needs an effective public sector to support the infrastructure, culture, society and people needed for business to flourish. At the same time many public services are themselves delivered by the private sector (and increasingly the Third Sector).

This is why the UK Learned Society for public policy and administration – the JUC Public Administration Committee – have called on the public service context to be a more explicit part of undergraduate business and management degree programmes: https://www.juc.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/PAC-Position-Statement-on-QAA-Subject-Benchmarks.pdf

I am continuing to research this issue. However, in the meantime please see the following references which list just some of the research that documents the history of UK public administration.

Some useful references:

Boyne, G. (1996). The Intellectual Crisis in in British Public Administration: Is Public Management the Problem or the Solution?, Public Administration, 74, 679-694.

Boyne, G. (2002). Public and Private Management: What’s the Difference? Journal of Management Studies, 39, 97-122. doi: 10.1111/1467-6486.00284

Carmichael, P. (2004). ‘Shackled to a Corpse?’ – A Reply to Howard Elcock. Public Policy and Administration, 19(2), 8–12. https://doi.org/10.1177/095207670401900203

Chandler, J. (1991). Public Administration: a Discipline in Decline, Teaching Public Administration, 11, 39-45.

Chandler, J. (2002). Deregulation and the Decline of Public Administration Teaching in the UK, Public Administration, 80, 375-390.

Chapman, R.A.C. (2007), “Joint University Council and the background to public policy and administration?”, Public Policy & Administration, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 7-26.

Davies, M. R., Greenwood, J., & Robins, L. (1995). Public Administration Education and Training: Globalization or Fragmentation? International Review of Administrative Sciences, 61(1), 73–78. https://doi.org/10.1177/002085239506100106

Elcock, H. (1991). Change and Decay? Public Administration in the 1990s. London, Longman.

Elcock, H. (2004). Public Administration: Why Are We in the Mess We’re In? Public Policy and Administration, 19(2), 3–7. https://doi.org/10.1177/095207670401900202

Elcock, H. (2013). Local Government: Policy and Management in Local Authorities. London, Routledge.

Elliott, I.C. (2017), Verbal contribution to PSA/JUC Debate on the Future of Public Administration, PSA Annual Conference, University of Strathclyde, April 10.

Elliottt, I.C. (2018). Marking the 100th anniversary of the UK Joint University Council and anticipating the next… Teaching Public Administration, 36(1), 3–5. https://doi.org/10.1177/0144739418763847

Elliott, I.C. (2020). Organisational learning and change in a public sector context. Teaching Public Administration. https://doi.org/10.1177/0144739420903783

Fenwick, J., & McMillan, J. (2014). Public Administration: What is it, why teach it and does it matter? Teaching Public Administration, 32(2), 194–204. https://doi.org/10.1177/0144739414522479

Gray, A, Jenkins, B (1995) From Public Administration to Public Management: Reassessing a Revolution. Public Administration 73(1): 75–99.

Greenwood, J (1999) The Demise of Traditional Teaching: Public Administration in Britain. Teaching Public Administration 19(1): 53–61.

Greenwood, J. and Eggins, H. (1995) Shifting Sands: Teaching Public Administration in a Climate of Change. Public Administration 73(1): 143–63.

Jones, A. (2012). Where Has All the Public Administration Gone? Teaching Public Administration, 30, 124-132.

Liddle, J. (2017), “Is there still a need for teaching and research in public administration and management? A personal view from the UK”, International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 30 No. 6-7, pp. 575-583. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPSM-06-2017-0160

Miller, K. (2012). The Future of the Discipline: Trends in Public Sector Management. In J. Diamond, & J. Liddle. (Eds.) Trends in Public Management: an Age of Austerity. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing.

Raadschelders, J.C.N. (1999) A coherent framework for the study of public administration. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 9(2): 281–303. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.jpart.a024411

Rhodes, R, Dargie, C, Melville, A, Tutt, B (1995) The State of Public Administration: A Professional History, 1970–1995. Public Administration 73(1): 1–15.

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Public Administration and Social Work at the Margins – An International Conference

The Joint University Council for the Applied Social Sciences (JUC) is holding it’s annual conference at Northumbria University on 17-18 September 2019. The theme of the conference is ‘Public Administration and Social Work at the Margins’. Find out more here: www.northumbria.ac.uk/JUC2019

Key features of the conference include:

  • The Frank Stacey Address delivered by Rt Hon Baroness Grey-Thompson, Chancellor of Northumbria University, former Paralympian and Crossbench Peer
  • Academic keynote on ‘Integrative Leadership in Tumultuous Times: Claiming the Center’ delivered by Professor Barbara Crosby, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
  • ‘Meet the Editors’ Lunchtime Session with Professor John Diamond (Teaching Public Administration) and Professors Claire Dunlop and Edoardo Ongaro (Public Policy and Administration)
  • Exhibition stands by academic publishers of latest books/journals and other publications
  • A social programme including walking tour of the Ouse Burn on evening of 16 September and conference dinner on 17 September.

The idea for the conference theme came about through discussion on the state of the subject of public administration and public management (particularly in the UK context). The subject area has been subject to significant challenge in the last 20-30 years and, alongside the alignment of public administration with Business Schools, there has been a slow and steady decline in the teaching of public administration and public management. This has left some UK scholars feeling marginalised within their own institutions and, more generally, within UK Higher Education.

At the same time the UK, and specifically public administration within the UK, is at risk of becoming marginalised within Europe. Brexit looms large over all aspects of public policy and administration. It also poses significant challenges for UK business which consequently may then have an impact on economic growth and tax receipts. The uncertainty around Brexit and continued economic slump may lead to ongoing austerity for years to come – placing UK public administration at odds with the rest of Europe.

Finally, questions need to be asked about the content, delivery style and assessment of public administration programmes such as MPA’s. Do they adequately address issues of marginalisation? How can universities best support public service organisations to address inequality in the context of ongoing austerity? Whilst politics is in disarray our public servants must continue to deliver good public administration and social work to some of the most vulnerable in our society.  As such we want to encourage submissions of abstracts that explore issues of race, gender identity, sexuality, variability and class.

In addressing many of these challenges collaboration and collective leadership is required. At Northumbria University we are leading a public administration revival through our research activities, including the 3PM Research Interest Group, and teaching of public leadership, including the MSc Strategic Leadership for Public Services. This conference marks a great opportunity for scholars and practitioners to come to our campus in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne to share the latest thinking on how our public services can work together to tackle inequality and challenge marginalisation. Find out more about the conference here: www.northumbria.ac.uk/JUC2019

Key dates:

  • Abstract submissions – Friday 31 May
  • Feedback on abstracts – by 30 June
  • Full papers due – 31 August
  • Conference walking tour – evening of 16 September
  • Conference start – morning of 17 September
  • Conference dinner – evening of 17 September
  • Conference finish – evening of 18 September

Submit your abstract now:
https://app.geckoform.com/public/?_ga=2.178698471.297039799.1557340916-551790689.1545312066#/modern/21FO0085pnoxur00ghisdbvlo9

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