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Why not teach “diversity” to public sector managers?

Margaret Page (University of the West of England, Bristol, UK)
Chrissie Oldfield (London South Bank University, London, UK)
Birgit Urstad (Trondheim Business School, Trondheim, Norway)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 30 May 2008




Equality and diversity are generally positioned as special interests, marginal to the mainstream of social policy teaching and learning. The purpose of this paper is to make the case for shifting equality and diversity out of the margins and into the centre of education for mid career public managers, and offers practical methods for doing so.


The current EU policy framework requires public services to go beyond eliminating discrimination, and to promote equality. The paper suggests that while this offers great opportunities for advancing the cause of social justice, the cultures that predominate in public policy may lead to loss and failure. Academic research and experience demonstrate that these changes are highly complex, touching on issues that are integral to our sense of who we are, and how we relate to each other as educators and students, and as enforcers, beneficiaries and implementers of these policies. The paper touches on deeply held emotions, showing that more exploration of appropriate pedagogical methods is needed.


The paper finds that only by raising issues of equality and diversity to mainstream social policy teaching and learning is there likely to be a shift in thinking and commitment that will encourage integration of equality measures within management and leadership of public.


The paper offers three dimensions of pedagogy for enabling public service managers to engage with diversity and the equality agenda within educational contexts, and offers three illustrations of pedagogic processes that support this learning.



Page, M., Oldfield, C. and Urstad, B. (2008), "Why not teach “diversity” to public sector managers?", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 368-382.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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