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Public Management



Public management is one of the major fields of interest within the discipline of Public Administration. This course takes a historical- and international-comparative perspective on public management. Historical, by delving into the evolution of the extent and organisation of state intervention in societal processes (from the so-called night watch state to the so-called enabling state), and international, by delving into the distinguishing features of public management systems in countries which have been influenced by Germanic, Anglo-American, Napoleonic, Scandinavian, Confucianist and Ottoman political-administrative traditions.

While many discussions about public management stress the importance of formal and structural aspects, this course emphasizes the importance of public officials and civil service systems. In this course we will pay ample attention to the civil service system and its role and defining tasks in public management activities.

While the classical bureaucratic model still gets ample attention, much of the public management literature focuses on improving the organization and management of public service delivery by looking at private sector principles and techniques. We will study how managerialist reforms (often simplistically referred to as “the” New Public Management approach) have been designed, implemented and impacted the public sector in various countries. Although 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.

This 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.

Learning objectives

  • Goal 1 Orientation on the content and foundations of various areas of public administration
    • Goal 2 Academic skills
    • Goal 3 Skills in social scientific research



Methods of instruction

This course consists of lectures and self study. This course is compulsory.

Method of assessment

Assessment for this course will be based on three components:
1) Weekly reading assignments (total 15% of the final grade), in which students choose 1 sentence from the reading of that week that they found most relevant or most confusing and explain why.
2) A midterm assignment (20 % of the final grade) in which students apply the learned theoretical perspectives to a practical case of public management reform / design / failure.
3) A final written exam with three essay questions (65 % of the final grade).

In order to pass the course, the grade for the final exam must be at least 5.5. and the weighted average of the three components must be at least 5.5. As the exam counts as 65 % of the final grade, failing the exam cannot be compensated by high grades for the weekly assignments or the midterm assignment.
If the grade for the final exam is between 3,0 and 6,0, students may take a resit for the final exam. No retakes for the weekly assignments or midterm assignment are possible.


Yes, 1 week before start of the course

Other course materials/literature

  • Raadschelders, J.C.N., T.A.J. Toonen and F.M. van der Meer (eds) (forthcoming). The civil service systems in the 21st century. Second Edition. London: Palgrave.
    • Chapters from: Painter, M. and B.G. Peters (eds) (2010) Tradition and Public Administration. London: Palgrave
    • Articles to be announced.


Registration for every course and exam in USIS is mandatory. For courses, registration is possible from four weeks up to three days before the start of the course.
For exams, registration is possible from four weeks up to ten days before the date of the examination.


dhr. Prof.dr. A.K. Yesilkagit, +31 70 800 9400