Theme 7: Public administration and policy: theories, methods, concepts

The study of public administration has a long and tradition. Over the years many theories, methods and concepts have been developed to analyse how governments steer societal issues. This work is often exploring how governments work or ought to work in addressing societal issues, and how they collaborate or should collaborate with business and civil society actors. Many of our contemporary thinking about policy and decision making has their roots in these classical understandings. But new societal trends has forced scholars to rethink some decision making models and develop models that are better suited to understand and prescribe the role of government in managing these issues. Specific topics include:

Policy and decision making theories

Many models exist to study part of the policy process, for example the advocacy coalition framework, institution analysis and development framework, punctuated equilibrium theory, agenda setting theories. Within this topic you can select and apply one of the classical public administration theories. Are these still able to analyse and prescribe decision making in our contemporary society? What can or needs to be changed? (contact person: Dr Robbert Biesbroek).

Societal trends and the role of government

Recent and recurring societal trends such as decentralisation, de-concentration, big society, participation society are examples of a continuous shift in the relationship and responsibilities between state and society and, subsequently, between public and private. How do these changes create tensions in decision making structures? How has this resulted in reforms? What are the consequences of these trends for decision making? (contact person: Dr Otto Hospes.

Newly emerging theories in studying decision making

With new trends come new theories. New Public Governance, E-Governance, or Adaptive Governance are examples of new ideas to study the role of government and decision making. But how valuable are these theories? Can the provide for a better analysis? Better prescription how decision making ought to be done? (contact person: Dr Art Dewulf).