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Core course: State of the Art - Public Management


Within the study of government, public management has become quite early a major field of interest. Apart from the classical bureaucratic model attention in much of public management literature is focused on improving the organization and management of public service delivery by looking to the private sector. Thus for a long period of time and certainly since the 1980s, generic approaches to public management have received much attention from practioners and the scientific community alike Most recently, the so-called New Public Management approach is often seen as a prime manifestation of how private sector methods are used within the public sector. Though NPM should be seen as a broad managerialist movement than a coherent and uniform theoretical approach, most countries have experienced the introduction of NPM ideas within their own system of public service delivery at least in a formal sense and often on their own national terms. Though still popular in the factual government operations, both within government, society and academic circles NPM is being criticized for overlooking the special identity (the ‘publicness’) of government. That issue of publicness is considered of fundamental importance also in this course. Attention is increasingly focussed on new alternative approaches as post NPM and neo-Weberianism remedying the perceived shortcomings of this managerialist approach. The approaches are often still in an early stage of development and/or lack a sufficient degree of inner consistency. In order to get a better understanding on these current discussions on and future directions of public management and more in particular to get indications how to improve the management of public service delivery we have to examine the fundamentals of current public management debates.
A first starting point is handed by Lane in his book on State management. State management (as an alternative name to public management) can be defined by getting an answer to the question how governments organize and manage the delivery of services in the public sector. The reform angle relates to the question how to improve the organization and management of public service delivery. Lane in his book on state management states that there exists a variety of public service organization and management models. In this course we will examine these different models. Relevant topics regarding these models are issues and problematics i.a. the degree of rationality, implementation gaps and strategies, network models, principal-agent mechanism, the place and role of law and regulation.
A second (and related) approach to deepen our understanding of current public management issues is by looking to operations, characteristic and challenges of the civil service systems. We often think of and discuss government or more generally to the public sector in formal and structural terms. In reality what government does is done through public officials and more in particularly the civil service. In this course we will pay ample attention to the civil service system and its role and defining tasks in public management activities.

Dr. F.M. van der Meer and dr. C.F. van den Berg

Teaching format
lectures and assignments


  • Jos C.N. Raadschelders, Theo A.J. Toonen and Frits M. van der Meer (Eds.) (2007 or more recent). The civil service systems in the 21st century. London: Palgrave.

  • Jan-Erik Lane, State management. An inquiry into models of administration, Oxford: Routledge.

  • Articles to be announced.

Examination: Tuesday 22 March 13.00-16.00 hrs in USC, hall and assignments
Re-exam: Tuesday 7 June 13.00-16.00 hrs in USC, hall

Lectures Tuesday 1 / 2 – 16/3
Time 13-16 in SA-41

Latest update: July 8, 2010