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A post‐modern cultural competency framework for public administration and public service delivery

Mitchell F. Rice (Texas A&M University, Texas, USA and National Academy of Public Administration, Washington, DC, USA)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 9 October 2007




The dramatic population growth of Hispanics and immigrants, combined with the issue of diversity, in the United States population raises several important questions about the future role of public administration and the delivery of culturally appropriate and culturally responsive public programs and public services in the post modern era of diversity. What is cultural competency in public programs and public service delivery? Can public agencies become culturally competent organizations? What is a cultural competency model for public administration and public service delivery? Aims to answer these questions that point to the need for a “new” kind of public servant and public service agency provider– one who possesses explicit cultural competency skills to work with racial/ethnic and cultural/linguistic groups in the delivery of public programs and public services.


Utilizing a literature review approach, the paper examines the concept of culture in public administration and argues that “culture” and “competency” must be tied together thereby leading to a contemporary standard and operational framework for advancing cultural competency in public administration and public service delivery. The article argues that cultural competency can enhance public administration/public service delivery normative values by increasing an agency's ability to work efficiently, effectively, and equitably in the context of cultural differences.


The paper concludes that there are five reasons for incorporating cultural competency into the study and practice of public administration/public service delivery and moving a public agency toward cultural competence.

Practical implications

Embracing cultural competency in public service delivery recognizes the salience of understanding the cultural context in which any direct public service encounter occurs. Advancing cultural competency presents an opportunity to address the incomplete and often times inaccurate public services and public programs provided to minority populations. A focus on cultural competency increases the relevancy of a public agency's administration, services and programs to the groups that can best utilize them. Having knowledge, awareness, and skills in cultural competency, service delivery professionals are better prepared to do their jobs.


This paper should be of value to both academics and practitioners as they grapple with diversity and immigration issues, public administration, public programs and public service delivery.



Rice, M.F. (2007), "A post‐modern cultural competency framework for public administration and public service delivery", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 20 No. 7, pp. 622-637.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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