Chapter 20: The role and significance of context in comparing country systems
This chapter examines the role and significance of context in three country systems – within one administrative tradition – that have wrestled with local factors and exogenous influences in periods of change. The tension between the two has been endemic to Anglophone countries – Australia, Canada and New Zealand – but the emphasis is on how the interaction between contextual and non-contextual factors has been worked through in the recent reform era. The countries are differentiated in two significant respects. First, they are all relatively small, dependent (at least historically) and with a habitual outward orientation that dates from colonialism. The pattern of being externally fixated continued in the post-colonial period while their independence was being progressively clarified in the twentieth century (although they have continued to share a sovereign and head of state with the United Kingdom). Second, these systems are open and receptive to ideas because of an administrative tradition that is pragmatic and instrumental. Anglophone countries have been particularly susceptible to the influence of management ideas and have demonstrated an ability to implement them. The role of Britain is significant both as the parent country and the constant purveyor of management ideas.
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