Public Management as Art, Science, and Profession

Public Management as Art, Science, and Profession

Public Management as Art, Science, and Profession

Public Management as Art, Science, and Profession

Synopsis

This work asserts that public servants are influential enough, in theory and in practice, to justify public management as an organized discipline for scholarship and teaching. Describing public managers as the human capital of the government executive capacity, it argues for establishing intellectual foundations for advising them in their work, which is vital for democracy and for the credibility of democratic institutions. The book offers an analysis of the relationship between theory and practice in public management and the role of universities in creating and sustaining that relationship. It asks under what circumstances, and how, executives make a difference to the success of public policy and public agencies, and argues that success requires both a value-laden and an analytical approach.

Excerpt

Public management has become an important domain of scholarship and teaching within two academic communities: public administration and public policy. The purpose of this book is to give definition to this domain. More specifically, it is about the relationship between knowledge and practice in public management and about the role of universities in creating and sustaining this relationship.

The justification for using "public management" as a focus for academic inquiry is, as yet, essentially arbitrary, and the term retains an irreducible ambiguity. Is public management a subfield of public administration, or is it the other way around? Is it an extension or an aspect of public policymaking or the other way around? Is it a concept with identifiable theoretical foundations, a logical extension of more basic inquiry, or is it a transitional subject and, as such, a progenitor of theory? Perhaps public management is no more than a label for the marketing of courses and training programs concerned with an administrative activity that is essentially an indeterminate practice.

That such questions have no widely accepted answers can be explained by the fact that "public management" did not originate as a term of scholarship: a way to define or clarify. Instead, it began as a term of art expressing a jurisdictional claim by "new" graduate programs in public policy to a domain "owned" until the early 1970s, when public policy programs began to proliferate, by another field:

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