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Chapter 1 The Future of the Discipline: Trends in Public Sector Management

Emerging and Potential Trends in Public Management: An Age of Austerity

ISBN: 978-0-85724-997-5, eISBN: 978-0-85724-998-2

Publication date: 6 August 2012


Purpose – The chapter provides a review of the debates about the discipline of public administration and public management as art, craft, and science. Thus, the chapter includes a conceptualization of public administration and a discussion of public administration and public management research, scholarship, and practice. The review of the discipline includes a historical perspective and contemporary debates of public administration, new public management (NPM), public sector management, and governance in order to discuss the future trajectories and trends of the discipline.

Design/Methodology/Approach – A range of historical, seminal, and recently published scholarly works are reviewed and discussed, including also an analysis based on primary and secondary research of journal databases, conference proceedings, academic schools, and websites relevant to the discipline.

Findings – The study of government in various guises – whether public administration, public management, governance, public policy – will continue to develop, evolve, and fascinate scholars and practitioners. There will be a continued interest and study of the business of government with three possible trends: (1) a narrow focus on technocratic, managerial approaches in an attempt to provide solutions for more effective and efficient government; (2) a multidisciplinary approach to addressing complex social problems or “wicked policy” problems across narrow specialized interests for “greater principles” of society; and (3) methodological pluralism in the study of government, which may add to the depth or fragmentation of the discipline.

Research limitations/Implications – The research is limited to a review with some primary and secondary research. It provides scholars and practitioners with the conceptualization of public administration, public management and governance. The chapter provides a critical perspective of the state of research and scholarship with an argument that academics need to move beyond parochial debates within the discipline and provide practitioners with empirically based solutions to increasingly complex social and “wicked policy” problems.

Practical implications – This chapter provides scholars, students, and practitioners with (1) a conceptual understanding of public administration, public management, NPM and governance; (2) a historical and contemporary perspective of the discipline; and (3) a critical perspective of research and scholarship that will provide a debate on the state of discipline.

Originality/Value – The chapter is a synthesis and review of the discipline in terms of research and scholarship drawing upon international perspectives to provide a critical debate for scholars and practitioners.



Johnston Miller, K. (2012), "Chapter 1 The Future of the Discipline: Trends in Public Sector Management", Diamond, J. and Liddle, J. (Ed.) Emerging and Potential Trends in Public Management: An Age of Austerity (Critical Perspectives on International Public Sector Management, Vol. 1), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 1-24.



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