nl en

Comparative Public Management


Admission requirements

None. Preferably knowledge of research design.


How do public managers in the Netherland, Spain, and Japan behave differently? More broadly, what explains variations in public managers’ attitudes and behaviors across countries? Do all local governments perform in a similar way? Why do some municipalities perform better than others? The main purpose of this course is to understand how characteristics of public administration differ across countries (or across municipalities) and how they influence public managers’ attitudes and behavior, management practices, organizational performance, and broader outcomes. Rather than internal management of public organizations, this course focuses on the impacts of environmental and institutional factors on public managers’ attitudes, behavior, and policy and socioeconomic outcomes.

In recent years, scholars in the fields of public administration and political science have “rediscovered” the importance of public bureaucracies for understanding different levels of government performance (Olsen 2006). Recent studies show that meritocratically recruited, autonomous, and impartial public administration—so called “Weberian bureaucracy”—is associated with long-term economic development, improved health outcomes, reduced corruption, greater innovation, and higher government effectiveness. Furthermore, recent studies also show that demographic representation in public organizations affects organizational performance and policy preferences. However, the field of public management has been accused of neglecting the big questions (Roberts 2017, 9) and assumed that “all states are alike—that Mexico is just like the United States, for example” (Milward 2016, 312). This course aims to bridge this gap.

In this course, students are expected to not only study the related academic works, but also critically evaluate the previous studies and write a research proposal. Students can use this opportunity to begin or to further develop their master’s thesis or independent research. This course does not focus on a specific geographic area. Instead, we will examine various countries in the world from a comparative perspective.

The class will address, for example, questions such as:

  • What explains cross-national and sub-national governments’ variations in levels of corruption, government effectiveness, and innovativeness?

  • Why are public managers in some countries more likely to engage in corruption than those in other countries?

  • Why are public managers in some national governments (or local governments) more innovative than others?

  • How does gender representation in the public sector affect organizational performance and policy preferences?

  • How do capacities and the experience of public sector leaders affect performance?

Course objectives

Upon completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Explain varieties in administrative characteristics and management practices around the world

  • Understand to what extent different institutional features and management practices influence governance outcomes and public manager’s attitudes and practices

  • Critically assess the existing studies

  • Use the insights from the course to start or advance his or her own independent research or master’s thesis

  • Practice research design skills in the field of comparative public administration and management

Labour market
This course will provide students with the understanding of the determinants of effective government from a comparative perspective and a chance to practice research design skills


On the right side of programme front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis, and Blackboard.

Mode of instruction

This course will be taught through a mix of mini-lectures by the instructor, student presentations, group discussion, and class discussion facilitated by students.

Course Load

The total course load for this course is 140 hours (5 EC x 28 hours). These hours are (approximately) spent on:

  • Attending lectures (a total of 14 hours)

  • Self-study (e.g., studying readings and cases, completing assignments) (126 hours)

Assessment method

  • Active class participation: 20%

  • Mini-presentation and discussion leader: 15%

  • Short essay: 20%

  • Final paper: 45%

All components need to be passed with a grade of 5.5 or higher in order to successfully complete this course. Redoing an assignment in case of a grade lower than 5.5 must be done before the course end and final paper deadline. Redoing the final paper is only possible if the paper had a score lower than 5.5.


Course information and a detailed course syllabus will be posted on blackboard in the week before the start of the course.

Reading list

The course does not follow a single text across all sessions. Instead, each class session will consist of 2-5 mandatory readings, which should be available via Leiden University Library.


Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results. Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course.

Also register for every course in Blackboard. Important information about the course is posted there.


Dr. Kohei Suzuki