Public Management as a Design-Oriented Professional Discipline


Public Management as a Design-Oriented Professional Discipline

9781788119115 Edward Elgar Publishing
Michael Barzelay, Department of Management, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), UK
Publication Date: 2019 ISBN: 978 1 78811 911 5 Extent: 192 pp
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While public management has become widely spoken of, its identity and character is not well-defined. Such disparity is an underlying problem in developing public management within academia, and in the eyes of practitioners. In this book, Michael Barzelay tackles the challenge of making public management into a true professional discipline. Barzelay argues that public management needs to integrate contrasting conceptions of professional practice. By pressing forward an expansive idea of design in public management, Barzelay formulates a fresh vision of public management in practice and outlines its implications for research, curriculum development and disciplinary identity.

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What, fundamentally, is public management? This question is rarely answered clearly and confidently, whether by students of public management or academics in the field. This book answers this question, as its readers come to know why and how public management is a design-oriented professional discipline.

The argument of the book is grounded in Herbert Simon’s ideas about design-oriented professional disciplines. However, Michael Barzelay’s argument runs counter to the idea that public management is a design science. It envisions the discipline as a professional practice that requires the thoughtful and skilful use of purposive theories of public organizations, along with reverse-engineered design-precedents, in problem-solving for public programs and organizations. How professional knowledge about public management is to be expanded through research and analytical synthesis is therefore a major thrust of the book’s overall argument.

Michael Barzelay develops these arguments in a unique way, including guiding the reader through a fictional “Public Management Gallery” featuring key contributions to purposive theorizing about public management as a professional practice. The book is an essential resource for those wishing to strengthen the professional practice of public management – and the discipline – through education and research immediately and for years to come.

Critical Acclaim
‘The author’s ambition to revisit the intellectual foundations of public management and consider our field as a design-oriented professional discipline is clearly achieved. Barzelay’s book will spark debate among public management scholars about our identity as a scholarly field. It will inspire future generations of public managers to think of themselves as designers who can contribute to solutions for public issues as opposed to purely technical implementers of policy initiatives. It will motivate those who seek to become public management scholars (or who already are) to not only focus on producing manageable chunks of academic knowledge but actually help design theory-driven approaches that are useful for policymakers and public managers. And, most importantly, it will draw attention away from the rather mechanical and sequential thinking on Old Public Administration, New Public Management and Post-New Public Management as theoretical underpinnings of our field towards actual theories designed and tested by public management scholars in the broadest sense.’
– Bert George, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory

‘By treating problem-solving as designing processes that convert existing to preferred conditions, this book takes up an ambition to set an intellectual foundation for public management whose practices can be improved by design-oriented professional knowledge. The book extends the Simon-Bardach traditions but presents ideas in vivid ways, making itself a brand new contribution to research and pedagogy in public management.’
– Yijia Jing, Fudan University, China

‘Michael Barzelay is the mentor needed by all of us interested in seeing – and designing – how public management as an enterprise can be part of creating a better future for everyone. The best mentors put their hand on your shoulder and point to what you ought to be doing, how, and why. Michael’s book is that hand and it shows the way forward.’
– John M. Bryson, University of Minnesota, US

‘Michael Barzelay offers a compelling account of the development of what he aptly and creatively describes as a “design-oriented, professional discipline” – the field of public management. In doing so, he helps all those laboring in this particular vineyard to understand more precisely what they are about, and the standards they need to meet if they are to be both intellectually responsible and useful to those practicing within this important professional domain. I never expected to have my own work so thoughtfully and critically reviewed, but emerged from this experience heartened and invigorated by the continuing challenge of developing the field further with Michael as our guide.’
– Mark H. Moore, Harvard University, US
Contents: Preface 1. Encountering Design-Oriented Public Management 2. Rediscovering Management: Analysis and Synthesis 3. Understanding Mechanism-Intent Thinking and Analysis in Public Management 4. Theories of Public Organizations, Design-Projects, and Professional Activities: A Public Management Gallery Tour 5. Core Knowledge in a Professional Discipline of Public Management 6. Design-Focused Case Studies in the Professional Discipline of Public Management 7. Managing International Cooperation Projects for Organizational Capacity-Building: A Design-Focused Case Study of the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology 8. Designed, not Copied: The Making of Public Management as a Design-Oriented Professional Discipline References Index

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