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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education

The 21st Century Public Manager

ISBN 9781137507433
Publication Date March 2017
Formats Hardcover Ebook Paperback 
Publisher Palgrave
Series The Public Management and Leadership Series

Truly global in scope and ambition, the 21st Century Public Manager addresses key trends, challenges, and opportunities facing public managers across contexts and regimes. This accessible textbook aims to inspire public managers in rethinking their roles, skills, and values as they enter a VUCA world—one characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. It is written for aspiring and current public managers in graduate schools and executive education programs.    

Zeger van der Wal is Assistant Dean (Research) and Associate Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. In 2014, he was awarded the prestigious Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty Fellowship as well as the school's Faculty Teaching Excellence Award. He was previously Assistant Professor at VU Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

1. Introduction
2. 'Traditional' versus 'New
3. Trends and Drivers
4. Demands, Dilemmas, Opportunities
5. Managing Stakeholder Multiplicity
6. Managing Authority Turbulence
7. Managing the New Work (Force)
8. Managing Innovation Forces
9. Managing Ethical Complexities
10. Managing Long versus Short Time Horizons
11. Managing Cross-Sectoral Collaboration
12. The 21st Century Public Manager.


‘Van der Wal has delivered the book that many of us who work with public managers, both in the classroom and the boardroom, have been waiting for. His engaging and modern exploration of the reality of life for public managers will speak to those dealing with the complexities of public management wherever they are in the world. It moves beyond the dominant Westernised view to a fuller, and much richer, view of public manager's practice. Van der Wal speaks directly to public managers in this accessible, readable and dare we say it, inspirational book; a book that will become the text for those of us who strive to help public managers make sense of their world, and make a difference in it. ’ Janine O'Flynn, University of Melbourne, Australia
‘The 21st Century Public Management is well named. The book provides an excellent overview of contemporary research and theory in public management and is at the same time more forward looking that any recent book on the topic. The author manages to do something very well, something many strive to do but few accomplish. He actually uses public management theory, blending it with theories from other relevant fields, in a manner that is not only intellectually satisfying but also accessible and relevant for the strategic public manager. This book should be in the collection of any serious public management scholar but will also be of great value to public management students and practitioners.’ Barry Bozeman, Arizona State University, USA
‘Are public officials ready to lead a world of growing complexity and turbulence? The 21st Century Public Manager arms public managers with the insights to deal with the government of the future. It thoughtfully makes sense of the challenges of an interconnected world, like big data, and global crises. The result is a thoroughly modern and engaging reframing of the job for the public manager ready to serve a more knowledgeable and demanding public.’ – Donald P. Moynihan, La Follette School of Public Affairs, USA
‘The managerial face of a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous public sector consists of multiple stakeholders, turbulent authority, new work forces, innovation, competing ethics, longer and shorter horizons, and complex collaboration. Zeger van de Wal addresses this VUCA environment by providing five clear characteristics for 21st century public managers. For this reason, this book will remain part of our solutions for the next decades.’ - Geert Bouckaert, Catholic University Leuven, Belgium
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