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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education

Understanding Public Administration

ISBN 9781137575456
Publication Date April 2016
Formats Hardcover Ebook Paperback 
Publisher Palgrave

Public administration – the practice of producing and executing government policy by bureaucrats, politicians, managers and other officials – affects almost everything we encounter in our day-to-day lives. Public administrators are – at least partially – responsible for the amount of hours we work, the quality of the air we breathe, the ease with which we can visit the doctor and the state of the roads we walk and drive down. Despite the widespread relevance of public administration however, the relative amount of government influence on society differs across the world.

This major new introduction examines public administration structures, processes and achievements, and the behavior and motivations of the administrators themselves. Internationally relevant and analyzing states at a range of different developmental stages, it examines the key themes and issues that dominate the field. Chapters are framed around a series of questions that determine the typical and the unusual features of governments. For example, focus is given to what makes for a stable government, the different definitions of management, possible solutions to corruption, the relationship between central and local governments as well as the formal strategies for policy development.

The book draws extensively on core theory in the field, and makes critical links between Public Administration and Economics, Law, Sociology and the wider subject of Political Science. As accessible for students as it is useful for practitioners looking for a comprehensive reference guide, this is an essential text for those who wish to understand the complexities of government and public administration from the inside out.

Michiel S. de Vries holds the chair in Public Administration at the Radboud University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands. He is the president of the International Association of Schools and Institutes in Administration (2012-2016) and full member of the Group of Independent Experts on the European Charter of Local Self-Government of the Council of Europe.

1. Introduction
2. Why do governments exist and why study them?
3. What does a typical government structure look like?
4. What is the role of a bureaucracy?
5. Who works in government?
6. What motivates government officials?
7. When do public decisions result in optimal outcomes?
8. How can public policies solve social problems?
9. Conclusion.


Rooted in the real world with numerous well-crafted everyday examples, this book is creative and imaginative in its scope and has the potential to appeal to students from a wide range of countries, given the breadth of examples and case studies.' - David Wilson, De Montfort University, UK
'This book takes an original approach in the field of classical books on Public Administration. Not burdened by academic specialisms, and written in an accessible style, this is almost like a GPS of public administration for the topics covered.' – Geert Bouckaert, KU Leuven, Belgium
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