Academic journal article Canadian Public Administration

The Global Relevance of Canadian Public Administration? A Bibliometric Research Note

Academic journal article Canadian Public Administration

The Global Relevance of Canadian Public Administration? A Bibliometric Research Note

Article excerpt

How has the study of public administration in Canada influenced the global dialogue about governance and public management? Reflecting upon this question is consequential for two reasons. First, as a field of research and professional practice, public administration discussions reverberate around the world. Reform trends that develop at one point on the globe diffuse to shape government reform and scholarly research agendas in distant corners of the earth (Pollitt and Bouckaert 2004). Similarly, Pollitt and Hupe (2011) observe "magic concepts" like governance, accountability, and networks, quickly diffuse in popular use. In a world of traveling ideas, Canada may be a borrower or contributor to global discourse. This is an empirical question. Second, scholarship in public administration emphasizes links between theory and practice (Gow and Wilson 2014). Articles that convey the experience of public administration in Canada, and the development of institutional context for public management, stand to benefit the practice of governing not only in Canada, but also in other parts of the world.

Canada does contribute to the global dialogue about governance and public management, but how? This research note joins recent efforts to scrutinize the global diffusion of knowledge in public administration. For example, Henderson (2009) bemoans the "benign neglect" of work by Canadian public administration scholars in journals based in the United States. Similarly, Rhodes (2011) expresses concern about the one-way exchange of ideas between American and British public administration. Some scholars are turning to bibliometric measures to assess the diffusion and impact of scholarship. Public Administration Review, the flagship journal of the American Society for Public Administration, recently published a bibliometric analysis exploring authorship patterns, the influence of specific academic institutions, and the place of the journal among its peers (Ni, Sugimoto, and Robbin 2017). While the analysis did not engage geographic citation patterns, bibliometrics have been used for this purpose, such as Kong and Qian's (2017) exploration of Anglo-American influence on the production of research about urban China.

This research note explores the geographic citation patterns and topical focus of the fifty most highly cited articles in the journal Canadian Public Administration through the end of 2016 using the Web of Science database. The purpose is not to rank or evaluate research, as cautioned by Bozeman (2012), but to better understand how the study of Canada matters outside of Canada. The citation data is used to calculate a ratio of the extent to which each article was cited by scholars affiliated with institutions outside of Canada in comparison to citations by scholars affiliated with institutions inside Canada. Other bibliometric measures could be used (Ding, Rousseau, and Wolfram 2014). Here, scope is sacrificed for depth. A detailed review of the contents of these articles illuminates how the study of public administration in Canada aids domestic and international audiences. The analysis shows some popular articles are highly cited only in Canada, but others are acknowledged by a global audience. For readers in Canada, this research note should prompt reflection upon the appetites of a global readership. The inquiry provides a launching pad for scholars outside the country to explore the insights generated from the study of public administration in Canada. Scholars around the globe already look to Canada for insights on topics including accountability and the performance of New Public Management (NPM) reforms; but, the global public administration community can benefit from a more careful reading of what Canada can tell us about federalism, capacity for policy analysis, and other government reform. Public administration scholars from around the globe can glean value from Canadian Public Administration by thinking through how the journal contributes to a global dialogue on governance while also offering nuanced detail about the challenges confronted by Canada's administrative state. …

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