Public Administration and Teaching – Papers, Malta 2009

Conference theme: Reinventing Government in the Information Age

Challenges of Local Government Education in a Small Country’s Multi-ethnic Territory. The Case of Estonia

Aet Kiisla MSc, University of Tartu, ESTONIA

to be very vague next to them. It seems there are more questions than answers in public administration. The phrase “teaching public administration” gave 7,020 results in Google search.
Browsing through the headlines and abstracts I noticed, not surprisingly, that authors mostly talk about master’s programmes. Also that teaching public administration is considered to be quite country-related. Most of the articles are case  studies one way or another. Many theoretical approaches seem to be irrelevant to the specific cases. “Nonetheless, in the light of societal changes towards late modernity, post-modern conditions and globalisation, there are some common challenges that sooner or later may knock at the door of all universities teaching Public Administration: how might we best conceptualise Public Administration as a field?; what are the field’s relations to practice?; how can we best teach our  field in a globalising world?; how adequate are our theories?; and how can we reach out and meet the demands to come down from our ivory tower?” (Abstract of Bogason and Brans 2008)

Teaching issues of integrity and public sector values Promoting public sector “ethos”

Jane Lethbridge PhD, University of Greenwich, UK

Commentators have remarked that the public sector ‘ethos’ is in danger of being lost in current public sector reforms, especially in the area of human resource management (Matheson, 2002). Current political debates about the extent to which a public sector ‘ethos’ is required to deliver public services have made it an important issue in public administration teaching.

This paper discusses some of the issues raised in developing a public sector ‘ethos’ in the design and initial delivery of a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) programme. It raises some fundamental questions about whether it is possible to train students in a public sector ‘ethos’.

Lundquist (1996) distinguished values of democracy and rationality within the public sector ‘ethos’ and this perspective complements attempts to locate the public sector ‘ethos’ in wider debates about the development of reflexivity, whether in the individual or as part of a collective endeavour (Cunliffe and Jun, 2005). Another approach takes the development of critical thinking in public administration and argues that the basis for a public sector ‘ethos’ is the translation of critical thinking into action (Martin, 2002). This can link to the promotion of public services and their associated values.

This paper draws on interviews with students and staff over the first two years of an MPA programme. It also includes personal observations by the writer who teaches on the MPA and is MPA programme leader.

The aim of this MPA programme is to equip students to deal with the changing public administration environment through exploring the public‐private interface. This led to specific debates about public and private ‘ethos’ and ways of encouraging students to critique changes in public services. The relationship between content and skills development was also examined and showed how, together, they can be successful in promoting a public sector ‘ethos’.

This paper argues that supporting the development of a public sector ‘ethos’ cannot be achieved by teaching ethics or corporate responsibility as separate courses but has to evolve from a critical perspective to changes in public administration, which is grounded in an appreciation and strategy for promoting and improving public services in the future. In the light of the current economic crisis, which, on the one hand has pushed the government ‘centre stage’ but also threatens the resources needed by the public sector, sustaining a public sector ‘ethos’ becomes increasingly urgent.

The Importance of a New Kind of Learning in Collaborative Networks

Myrna P. Mandell PhD, Robyn Keast PhD, Kerry Brown, California State University, United States of America

There is wide agreement that in order to manage the increasingly complex and uncertain tasks of business, government and community, organizations can no longer operate in supreme isolation, but must develop a more networked approach. Networks are not ‘business as usual’. Of particular note is what has been referred to as collaborative networks. Collaborative networks now constitute a significant part of our institutional infrastructure. A key driver for the proliferation of  these multiorganizational arrangements is their ability to facilitate the learning and knowledge necessary to survive or to respond to increasingly complex social issues In this regard the emphasis is on the importance of learning in networks. Learning applies to networks in two different ways. These refer to the kinds of learning that occur as part of the interactive processes of networks. This paper looks at the importance of these two kinds of learning in collaborative networks.

The first kind of learning relates to networks as learning networks or communities of practice. In learning networks people exchange ideas with each other and bring back this new knowledge for use in their own organizations. The second type of learning is referred to as network learning. Network learning refers to how people in collaborative networks learn new ways of communicating and behaving with each other. Network learning has been described as transformational in terms of leading to major systems changes and innovation. In order to be effective, all networks need to be involved as learning networks; however, collaborative networks must also be involved in network learning to be effective.

In addition to these two kinds of learning in collaborative networks this paper also focuses on the importance of how we learn about collaborative networks. Maximizing the benefits of working through collaborative networks is dependent on understanding their unique characteristics and how this impacts on their operation. This requires a new look at how we specifically teach about collaborative networks and how this is similar to and/or different from how we currently teach about interorgnizational relations.

Bologna changes in MA degree programmes. Convergence of the public administration programmes in South-Eastern Europe

Prof. Dr. Lucica Matei, National School of Political Studies and Public Administration, Romania

Eastern European states, members or non members of the European Union. For most states, important restructuring processes for the legal framework and organisation system of higher education were imperative. At the same time, the content of the programmes for all the three cycles was revised in order to follow closely the finalities stipulated in the European documents, substantiating the European Higher Education Area.
In this context, the current paper aims to carry out the comparative analysis for the actual level attained by the mentioned states in implementing Bologna Process, with special attention towards higher education in the area of public  administration. Research teams, led by the author of this paper have analysed the degree of curricular compatibility of the Bachelor programmes from various European states.

This time, the research will focus on describing the process of convergence related to the delivery modalities and the content of the Master programmes in the area of public administration, corresponding to the second cycle of Bologna system.
The indicators of convergence will be defined related to the standards of evaluation, used by EAPAA for accreditation of the public administration programmes.

The Strategy of Public Administration Education and Training in Transitional Countries entering European Administrative Space

Witold Mikulowski PhD, Academy of Management , Poland

The political change and integration with European community raised the question how to satisfy the competency needs necessary to adapt the public administration of transitional countries to the standards of a modern, liberal and democratic state, able to cooperate efficiently with European institutions and other public administrations of common administrative space. The problem was quantitative as well as qualitative, but it was particularly crucial concerning education for senior and middle management civil service positions, both for central government and local administration (the latter being progressively transformed into local self-government). There were several possibilities.

The first one was to review, modernize and extend already existing public administration degree programs within general higher education system. It was done and presently there are about 150 public administration degree programs delivered by public and private universities and schools of higher education in Poland. This number includes about 20 Master degree programs, mainly but not exclusively within Law and Administration departments of public universities.

The second possibility was to create a parallel system of public administration education, independent of general higher education system. This option was taken by the Polish Government who has created in 1990 the National School of Public Administration (KSAP) placed directly under the Prime Minister authority, which is delivering a post graduate, non degree, general public administration executive program preparing for central government administrative carriers.

The post graduate, non degree programs are also offered by the institutions belonging to the general higher education system Presently in Poland about 60 of such public administration, general or more or less specialized programs are offered by public and private institutions.

Another possibility is to develop the new competencies needed for public administration modernization through in-service training courses delivered by national, public and private training institutions combining national and external  resources coming from foreign technical assistance and private consulting firms. This type of training activities are developing in Poland dynamically benefitting of the possibilities offered by the European funding (European Structural Funds – ESF).

In our paper, we are analyzing the adequacy of each of these solutions to the public administration needs, their respective advantages and disadvantages, effectiveness and potential synergy effects.

Public Management education in Central Europe: how far did we progress?

Juraj Nemec, David Spacek, Patrycja Joanna Suwaj, Matej Bel University Banska Bystrica, Slovakia

Countries in Central Europe started their transition from centrally planned and managed to democratic and market based societies in 1989. Together with political and economic changes also the reforms of the higher education system was  realized. Universities adopted their curricula and system of studies to international standards and joined “Bologna higher education area”.

This reform created relatively large network of public administration2 programmes in Central Europe, mapped for example by Verheijen and Nemec (2000), Hajnal (2004) and some others. Formally the transition in this area is finished or  almost, the reality seems to be more complicated. Several sources indicate that a lot of old traditionalism in teaching of public administration remains in the region. One of such warning fingers are outcomes from EAPAA3 accreditation process (www.eapaa.org), where several PA programmes from Central Europe have large difficulties to reach necessary standards.

Teaching public management by traditional means is not very effective – is it possible to become good quality public manager by simple memorizing of one truth? To reflect this problem we started comprehensive research in Poland, Czechia  and Slovakia. This research is expected to respond to the following research questions: 1. How many public management (bachelors and masters) programmes are delivered in selected countries? Are programs called public management really public management programmes from the point of view of curricula?

What are explanations for the situation?
2. What is the proportion of public management courses in the curricula of accredited public administration programs, sorted by group, delivered in selected countries? What are explanations for this proportion?
3. What are the dominant teaching approaches used for delivery of public management courses?

What did you learn in MPA this year? Evaluating the Swedish-Norwegian MPA Programme

Dr. P.O. Norell, Karlstad University, Sweden

Gradually, we develop our MPA programmes. We bring in new aspects from the point of view of curricula. Form time to time new pedagogical ideas and devices are introduced. Sometimes, we could have the feeling that they all fit fairly well into a more comprehensive view of learning. But, as we all know, it takes (at least) two to tango. The common wisdom might be that one should lead and the other should follow, but there is much more to it. Previous knowledge, training and expectations of the two partners and how well they read each other’s signals strongly affect the outcome. To learn “the MPA-tango” is an even more complicated issue. In our case the students have an enormous amount of specific knowledge  and experience from the field of practice that in general the lecturers have not; the competence of the latter is mainly of a theoretical kind, and these two should in some way be matched. The institutions that provide the education could have a very nice pedagogical model, but if this isn’t adjusted to the students and their situation things could go wrong. There are also other actors involved. The employers, who to various degrees finance this education, expect to make use of the knowledge and competence the students acquire. In practice, this venture also involves the families of the students. As almost all of our students are in the midst of their career, working full-time, most of the studying takes place during leisure times, affecting family duties and other aspects of life. This we know from earlier evaluations.

This paper penetrates the result of an internet questionnaire to MPA students after their first year (as part-time students) of either a two years (equivalent to one years full-time study), a two and a half years (equivalent to 1,5 year’s full-time study) or a three years programme (equivalent to two year’s full-time study). How well have we succeeded so far, from the students’ point of view? The point of departure is the pedagogical model of the programme, which in turn is connected to a quality assurance system. This is an attempt to evaluate the various parts of this pedagogical model. In particular, we are interested in how some of the new devices introduced to this group are assessed. We try to map the learning situation of our MPA students, to get an impression of how well pedagogy fits this.. We very much would like to know if and how they are affected: does the MPA make a difference? Do they, so far, act differently at work and elsewhere? Is the questionnaire

Adding value(s) to practice and pedagogy

Dr. Bríd Quinn, University of Limerick, Ireland

As public administration has changed, the frameworks of knowledge and meaning in which managers operate have become less stable and less certain. New approaches such as the move to governance, the dominance of networks and the  possibilities of technology have led to different perspectives and priorities. There is also evidence of preoccupation with the values which circumscribe public action. The promulgation of public values demand new responses. The political and economic turmoil resulting from recession and financial restructuring has added impetus to the diffusion of notions of public value and public values within political and administrative discourse. Public action affects and is affected by many values. This leads to intricacies of language, meaning and understanding with multiple values presenting a challenge to all larger organizations (Davis and West, 2008). Public values represent a sociopsychological construct situated within the political/public administration arena. Such construct is significant because of its focus on the behavioural and psychological aspects of public management. The ‘strategic triangle’ formulated by Mark Moore (the original guru of public values) conjoins value; legitimacy and support; and operational capabilities as the foundation for the strategies of public sector organisations. This is an appropriate emphasis for the context of change in which public managers work today.  Furthermore, public-value-centred management is perceived as entailing openness and flexibility and is assumed to foster a more positive view of government and public administrators (Moore, 1995: Gains and Stoker, 2008). What then are the implications for public managers? How can they adapt to the changing emphases? What skills, knowledge, disposition and strategies do they require for the changed situation in which they find themselves and how might they hone those attributes? How can they develop the required personal and professional expertise? This paper explores the implications of the adoption of public value(s) (PV) approaches for public management education. Following an elaboration of the concepts and applications of public value(s) the paper identifies approaches which can be utilised to enable public sector managers to adapt to the need for value seeking imagination and implementation. It then examines the curricular and pedagogical implications of championing public values within practitioner education.

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