Public Administration

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Public Administration, founded in 1922, is a major refereed journal with global circulation and global coverage. The journal publishes articles on all facets of public administration, public policy and public management. The editors are especially interested in papers that deal with major administrative challenges that generate theoretical advances and provide substantive insights.

Latest documents

  • How politicians use performance information in a budgetary context: New insights from the central government level

    This article looks at performance information use by legislators at the central level in a budgetary context. The multi‐method approach (interviews, quantitative and qualitative analysis of plenary speeches given during budget readings) allows us to draw a broader picture of the use of performance information. The findings provide new insights into different purposes of performance information use. We identify four general use types, that is, de‐legitimizing, legitimizing, improving and understanding, and deflecting, which together with the subjects addressed blend into different use purposes. Second, the study sheds light onto different factors affecting performance information use, that is, the attributes of users of performance information, the properties of performance, and the role of institutional support.

  • The circulation of public officials in a fragmented system: Urban governance networks in Paris

    Fragmentation and specialization—two characteristics of governance—have increased the number and variety of actors involved in the governing process, which can influence policy outcomes and legitimacy. To date, studies on governance or policy networks usually focus on one policy field and one moment in time. In this article, we analyse the dynamic aspect, thus how governance networks change over time, and examine whether the fragmentation and specialization of the governance system is mirrored in the circulation of public officials. Our case is the urban governance system of the Paris region, which is characterized by high fragmentation along policy fields and territory. The data show that Paris is governed by three sub‐systems that largely correspond to the different territorial levels of governance, but also to different types of organizations. Generally, territorial fragmentation seems to be stronger than policy field fragmentation. This structure is quite stable across time.

  • The environmental determinants of diversity management: Competition, collaboration and clients

    Diversity management has received considerable attention in public management research. Most existing research, however, analyses the effects rather than the determinants of diversity management. Using panel data on American hospitals from 2008 to 2011, we probe how market competition, inter‐organizational collaboration and clientele diversity affect diversity management adoption. We find that all three environmental factors increase diversity management adoption. Hospitals in competitive markets are more likely to adopt diversity management strategies when they engage in extensive service collaboration and serve a diverse population. Monopolies in less collaborative environments lag behind in adopting diversity management, especially when they serve ethnically homogenous populations. Our findings broaden understandings about what drives diversity management practices and add to the literature on the external contingency of managerial practice.

  • A genealogy of EU discourses and practices of deliberative governance: Beyond states and markets?

    The article offers a genealogy of ‘deliberative governance’ in the EU—an important contemporary discourse and practice of ‘throughput legitimacy’ within that setting. It focuses on three key episodes: the late 1990s ‘Governance’ reports of the European Commission's in‐house think‐tank, the Forward Studies Unit (FSU); the Commission's 2001 White Paper on Governance; and the EU's ‘Open Method of Coordination’, which emerged in the 1990s and was widely studied in the early and mid‐2000s. The genealogy serves to highlight the particular intellectual lineages and political contingencies associated with such a discourse and in so doing points to its exclusive potential in both theory and practice. In particular, the article argues that it excludes, on the one hand, those championing the enduring sociological and normative importance of the nation state and an associated representative majoritarianism and, on the other hand, those (excessively) critical of a functionalist, neoliberal, market‐making status quo.

  • Conceptualizing throughput legitimacy: Procedural mechanisms of accountability, transparency, inclusiveness and openness in EU governance

    This symposium demonstrates the potential for throughput legitimacy as a concept for shedding empirical light on the strengths and weaknesses of multi‐level governance, as well as challenging the concept theoretically. This article introduces the symposium by conceptualizing throughput legitimacy as an ‘umbrella concept’, encompassing a constellation of normative criteria not necessarily empirically interrelated. It argues that in order to interrogate multi‐level governance processes in all their complexity, it makes sense for us to develop normative standards that are not naïve about the empirical realities of how power is exercised within multi‐level governance, or how it may interact with legitimacy. We argue that while throughput legitimacy has its normative limits, it can be substantively useful for these purposes. While being no replacement for input and output legitimacy, throughput legitimacy offers distinctive normative criteria—accountability, transparency, inclusiveness and openness—and points towards substantive institutional reforms.

  • Transferring emotional capital as coerced discretion: Street‐level bureaucrats reconciling structural deficiencies

    The discretion of street‐level bureaucrats (SLBs) plays a key role in policy implementation. This study offers a new perspective on the meaning of discretion under social policy reforms, which created new structural deficiencies in the work of SLBs and have raised expectations of policy implementation without offering sufficient policy responses. Under such conditions, the discretion of SLBs should be understood as coerced, more so than as a positive element of freedom and choice. As such, SLBs are forced to employ informal practices and provide alternative resources for their clients. Findings indicate a transference of emotional resources from SLBs to clients, aimed at achieving policy outcomes of economically independent citizens, paradoxically accompanied by an awareness of powerful barriers to such conversion. The study contributes both to the understanding of discretion in policy implementation, in the context of an expanding public service gap, and to theories of emotion manifestation in public administration.

  • Implementing European case law at the bureaucratic frontline: How domestic signalling influences the outcomes of EU law

    This article analyses the implementation of European case law at the bureaucratic frontline of European member states. Theoretically, insights from street‐level implementation studies are combined with judicial impact research. Empirically, we compare how EU rules on free movement and cross‐border welfare are applied in practice in Denmark, Austria and France. We find that when applying EU rules in practice, street‐level bureaucrats are confronted with a world of legal complexity, consisting of ambiguous rules, underspecified concepts and a recent judicial turn by the Court of Justice of the European Union. In order to manage complexity, street‐level bureaucrats turn to their more immediate superiors for guidance. As a consequence, domestic signals shape the practical application of EU law. Despite bureaucratic discretion and many country differences, domestic signals create uniform, restrictive outcomes of EU law in all three cases. Thus we show that there is considerable room for politics in EU implementation processes.

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  • Generalists and specialists in executive politics: Why ambitious meta‐policies so often fail

    This article contributes to the politics of policy‐making in executive government. It introduces the analytical distinction between generalists and specialists as antagonistic players in executive politics and develops the claim that policy specialists are in a structurally advantaged position to succeed in executive politics and to fend off attempts by generalists to influence policy choices through cross‐cutting reform measures. Contrary to traditional textbook public administration, we explain the views of generalists and specialists not through their training but their positions within an organization. We combine established approaches from public policy and organization theory to substantiate this claim and to define the dilemma that generalists face when developing government‐wide reform policies (‘meta‐policies’) as well as strategies to address this problem. The article suggests that the conceptual distinction between generalists and specialists allows for a more precise analysis of the challenges for policy‐making across government organizations than established approaches.

  • Beyond public policy: A public action languages approach Peter Kevin Spink Edward Elgar, 2019, 256 pp., £72.00 (hbk), ISBN: 9781 78811 874 3

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