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Public Administration & Management

Research Group

Lifecycle:1 Oct 2003  →  30 Sep 2018
Organisation profile:Both the practice and the discipline of public administration underwent a fundamental transformation over the last decades. Under the banner of New Public Management (NPM), a multitude of reforms has been initiated in public sectors globally. Competition, 'agencification' and organizational autonomy, performance-based contracts, measurement, flexibility and privatisation are some of the keywords of this globalization of reform ideas. It is an explicit anti-thesis against Weberian bureaucracy. The controversy around managerialism in the public sector is a fertile ground to develop the focus of our research group. However, rather than to engage in the dispute between 'old' public administration and 'new' public management, we want to develop a theoretical understanding of the tensions that NPM has provoked. Moreover, we want to understand how NPM elements have supplemented bureaucratic values and instruments and how the Post-NPM emphasis on interorganisational coordination and collaboration creates tensions with NPM reform strategies. In our view, four inter-related perspectives remain underexposed in managerialism.Law and administrationAdministrative law is the tailpiece of Weberian bureaucracies. The administrative law serves to regulate the delegation of authority to bureaus as well as the rights and duties of the citizen vis-à-vis government. NPM not only introduced more contractual relations in the public domain, it also shifted roles; citizens become clients and administrations become providers. We study whether and how public law incorporates these changes. We additionally study how the current emphasis on interorganisational collaboration between levels of government and between public and private actors impact upon the nature of public law.Politics and administrationThe separation of politics and administration can be seen as one of the proverbs of public administration. NPM has taken the separation of politics and administration to the extreme. Empirical evidence does however not support a clear-cut separation. Politicians interfere in the machinery of government and bureaucracies assume considerable political roles. This crossover of tasks is even more prominent in the current era of internationalisation as well as multi-actor and multi-level governance. We thus have to bring politics into the analysis. Performance and administrationAlthough being an NPM mantra, two aspects of the concept of performance remain in our view understudied. First, we are doing research on how performance indicators in the public sector are being used in practice. Secondly, we study the performance of performance measurement and management. Do such managerial PA styles have an impact, either positive or negative, on results of organisations? Multi-actor and multi-level nature of administration in a globalizing worldCurrent public sector reform trends (both NPM and Post-NPM) are disseminated at a global scale, affecting both developed and developing countries. Together with trends of supra-nationalization, global reform ideas tend to disperse public authority into multi-actor and multi-level constellations that are governed by mixes of hierarchy, market and networks. By international comparative research, we study how such global reform trends impact upon domestic administration and how administrative-political regimes and country-specific idiosyncrasies influence the adoption of reforms.
Disciplines:Management, Other economics and business, Law, Citizenship, immigration and political inequality, International and compartive politics, Multilevel governance, National politics, Political behaviour, Political organisations and institutions, Political theory and methodology, Public administration, Other political science