Conference theme: Public Administration & the Management of Diversity
Developing public management expertise in the Belgian federal administration. A partnership between multiple stakeholders.
public management to encounter the growing need for public management expertise. At that same moment a huge reform project within the administration took place, and automatically both projects were connected. This specific administrative context generated at first a partnership between two actors, and evolved later on towards a partnership between multiple actors. It is the purpose of this paper to provide insight into the development of the educational programme within its specific context and to analyze the way the partnership developed in order to ensure the continuation of the programme and the achievement of the educational goals.
This article is written by two major actors, i.e. the two universities which organize the programme and their commissioner, the Training Institute of the Federal Administration, an organisation within the Belgian federal public sector. It is based on the experiences of the three institutes, formal and informal documents, and 22 qualitative in-depth interviews taken within the federal administration between April 2007 and January 2008.
Two ships passing in the night? Practice and academia in Public Management
Public management is contemporaneously a field of everyday practice; a set of research issues; and an academic field of education. The effectiveness of public management and the quality of research depend on the coherence and synergies reated between practice and academia, which are seldom empirically explored, although worthy of consideration. The paper, through the case study of Italy put in the wider context of Oecd countries, gives an empirical contribution aimed at creating understanding on the mismatches between these worlds. Several issues of high relevance for policy makers but neglected by public management academic research are highlighted.
New Challenges to the Swedish-Norwegian MPA: Time for Reconsideration?
Karlstad University in Sweden and Hedmark University College in Norway are now cooperating for a fourth time in a MPA project1; the next starts in August 2008. Especially the last half year has been a period of intense preparations. There is a lot to be said in favour of a continuation, the forming of “MPA 4”. Overall, our experiences are very positive. The general concept proves to work fine (see appendix 1). The co-operation has been characterized by an open and generous attitude; but also by a lot of hard work, joy and strong commitment. All in all, the relationship has been characterized by equivalence and reciprocity: we have both Swedish and Norwegian lecturers preparing and implementing all courses; so far only Karlstad University is authorized to exam on master’s level: the students obtain a Karlstad degree. This time, some aggravating circumstances became apparent, which needed to be dealt with. These concerned new legislation, funding, the market situation and also new priorities. Clearly, this was an opportunity to give the programme an overhaul.
In terms of market, our programme has had a regional profile; our students come mostly from the Swedish/Norwegian border region, the Swedish county Värmland and the Norwegian county Hedmark; we refer to this as Inner Scandinavia. If we look back, three students out of four have their employer in these counties. This is a sparsely populated area, part of it is fighting the problems of an aging and diminishing population; other parts have a much more positive development (like the Karlstad area). It borders the Oslo region, which have had a tremendous growth. Concerning employer, the Swedish students could mainly be split into two: County council (responsible for health and medical care) and local government (multiple tasks), complemented with a few from state authorities. The Norwegian pattern is more diversified. Almost all of the Swedish participants come from rather huge organizations (The Värmland County Council, Dalarna County Council, City of Karlstad, and Arvika Town Council); among the Norwegians many come from huge organizations but we also find quite a few from small municipalities. Regarding hierarchical level, we have not attracted very many from the absolute top level (local, regional or central government CEOs), but quite a few from the second tier (heads of departments) and from qualified staff positions (personnel managers, finance managers, planners etcetera). Another main group is those working as managers of institutions and units that more directly are involved in service delivery. Regarding education and vocation, we see an abundance of variation: medical doctors, nurses, economists, military officers, police officers, lawyers, teachers, social workers, social scientists, consultants, politicians, etcetera. Most of our students are in the age span of 35-50 years.
The Swedish Act of Higher Education of 2007, with the purpose of adapting to the Bologna protocol, has some apparent disadvantages regarding the MPA programme. First, all master’s programmes should be framed to constitute the basis for doctoral studies. Earlier, there was a division between “broad” and “deep” masters. Second, the advanced level (masters) could either be a one year’s or a two years’ programme. Our earlier programmes have been broad (one and a half year’s) masters. The Norwegian Act of Higher Education offers two alternatives, corresponding to the earlier Swedish standard, a broad (one and a half years’) master and a deep (two years’) master.
The Hedmark University College is applying for the authorization to exam MPA students on their own. This process has been drawn-out and is not yet concluded. This ambition should be understood in the context that Hedmark is in the process of constituting a closer co-operation with two other university colleges in Norway, with the purpose of establishing a full university. The MPA programme is considered one of its distinctive images. As part of these processes
Hedmark is strengthening its faculty, recruiting professors. Regional Norwegian stakeholders provide the university college with considerable funding to facilitate the university forming process. As a consequence they can finance their par of the MPA programme with just the additional state grants, related to student activity and performance. Our Norwegian partners have expressed their sincere ambition to continue the co-operation with Karlstad; this is considered an advantage on the Norwegian market, in addition to other positive effects. As stated above, the Karlstad University is positive to continuation; apart from other aspects the number of Norwegian students has been essential. From the Karlstad University point of view state grants are not sufficient to cover the necessary expenditures related to the programme.
Interaction between demand and supply in mid-career PA teaching
The papers starts with some reflections on the nature and mechanisms of academic teaching and learning. Part of what students expect and are expected to learn refers to generally accepted scientific knowledge. This knowledge is not a commodity that can be passed to students. The learning process involves intellectual activity of both the teacher and the student as well as social interaction between them (and among students). This is a fortiori the case for other things students hope or are hoped to learn, such as insight and competences. The paper reviews some relevant theoretical notions on how (and when) such learning processes take place. Informed by these reflections, the paper reports on ‘demand’ and ‘supply’ in the Rotterdam part time PA masters program and analyses their interplay. An image of the ‘demands’ is derived from needs, attitudes, expectations and targets students report at the beginning of the program. The ‘supply’ side
is reflected by the design of the program and the views, approaches and teaching methods of staff. The paper analyses the connections and discrepancies between the two. Moreover changes in ‘demands’ and impacts of ‘supplies’ during the program are related to learning processes as they emanate from student’s self reports and teacher’s observations. The paper concludes with some attention points for designing and improving post-experience PA programs and enhancing
Between tradition and modernity teaching standards of public administration programs in Poland
The paper analyses compulsory quality standards of Public Administration degree programs in Poland and their impact on adequacy of public administration education to the needs of national and international stakeholders in the perspectives of Bologna process and EAPAA accreditation requirements. It begins with short presentation of historical background of public administration education in Poland and their recent booming evolution in the context of spectacular development of public and private institutions of higher education after the fall of communism.
The core part of the study contains a general overview and qualitative assessment of presently existing PA degree and post graduate programs’ in the context of officially required standards and procedures of their accreditation by the Ministry in charge of higher education. These analyses bring to conclusion that the contains, teaching methods and graduates’ professional profiles of existing PA programs are not corresponding well to the needs of modern public administration acting in rapidly changing environment. The reasons of this situation are related first of all to the weaknesses of general system of higher education official standards and accreditation requirements and procedures. It is too centralised and formalistic. Too detailed and rigid official standards are in practice limiting the possibility to adapt programs to the changing needs of employment market. They are not taking into account dynamic development of the interdisciplinary researches breaking systematically the limits of traditional disciplines. Concerning more specifically the PA degree programs, the main problem is laying in dominant position of traditional faculties of Law and Administration which are petrifying the traditional model of mainly legally oriented PA programs profiles.
In the conclusions are presented efforts of Polish Association for Public Administration Education to modernise and improve PA degree programs giving them more interdisciplinary dimension and flexibility necessary to adapt to a large spectrum of qualification profiles and changing needs for modern public administration and public management specialists.