Public Administration: What is it, why teach it and does it matter?

Fenwick, John and McMillan, Janice (2014) Public Administration: What is it, why teach it and does it matter? Teaching Public Administration, 32 (2). pp. 194-204. ISSN 0144-7394

JF for TPA 2014.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (304kB) | Preview
Official URL:


What is understood by “public administration” in the contemporary UK higher education setting? Is it still being taught and, if so, why? These questions initially appear to be fairly straightforward but any review of the topic quickly poses some rather more tricky areas of enquiry. This article will focus upon three central questions. First, some persistent issues surrounding public administration as a field of research and enquiry provide a problematic start for any discussion: what is meant academically by public administration and does it retain any scholarly meaning, or any disciplinary base(s) that warrants its location in university departments? Is it distinct from public policy and public management or can it now be wholly subsumed within these more readily understood (and more marketable) categories? Second, there are difficult issues around public administration as a field of practice in a highly turbulent public sector world. Public administration (especially in its received meaning from the continental European tradition) was predicated upon stability, structure and law. Contemporary UK public administration is built upon flux and uncertainty. Third, the pedagogic aspects of teaching this elusive area raise significant additional issues, compounded by the differences between teaching a practitioner audience of public administrators (perhaps allied to work-based learning delivery) alongside, or in place of, an academic social or political science audience. Business schools have grown as the main site for such teaching. Differentiated modes of teaching have proliferated while the focus of what is taught has grown more elusive. Teaching public administration starts to look like quite a rich and contested area of academic activity.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: MPA, Public Administration, public management
Subjects: L200 Politics
X900 Others in Education
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2016 08:24
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 20:48

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics