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Edited by Sybe de Vries, Elena Ioriatti, Paolo Guarda and Elisabetta Pulice

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Nicola Francesco Dotti

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Nicola Francesco Dotti

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David Kaufmann

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Chan S. Jung

This chapter provides conceptual explanations about goal and ambiguity separately. Then goal ambiguity in public management is explained in terms of definition, importance, and paradox. Goal ambiguity is defined as the extent to which a set of goals in a public program or an organization allows different interpretations in deciding work related to target, time limit, and external evaluation. Ambiguous goals can have negative effects throughout a program, an organization, and further on citizens and society and on public service performance. However, public managers must face dilemmatic situations between clear goals for (rational) managerial strategy and ambiguous goals for political need (e.g. interventions on the society versus broader political support), which is called the paradox of goal ambiguity. Then this chapter describes the plan of this book.

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B. Guy Peters

Scholars and the individuals involved in making public policy use a variety of words to describe how they actually arrive at the content of those policies. Perhaps the most commonly used word is “formulation” (see Jordan and Turnpenny, 2015), but words such as creation, innovation, and development are also used to describe the process of finding some form of intervention to confront a policy problem. The hope is always that the policy that is formulated or created will be able to “solve” the problem, and that government (and citizens) can go on to cope with the next problem that arises. When Herbert Simon (1996, 111) wrote that “everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones”, the definition was somewhat generic but was definitely speaking to policy design. Although thinking about policy design has become more common in policy studies, it should be considered as a significant alternative to more casual ways of thinking about policy formulation. As Jan Tinbergen (1958, 3), a Nobel laureate in economics argued, design (in particular design for development policy) was an alternative to “decisions taken on the basis of a general idea of progress and often somewhat haphazardly”. That haphazard style of making policies persists in many countries and in many policy areas. Therefore, careful consideration of design strategies is important for both academic students of policy and policymakers in the “real world” of government.

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Chan S. Jung

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B. Guy Peters

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Edited by Brendan Cantwell, Hamish Coates and Roger King

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Brendan Cantwell, Hamish Coates and Roger King

This chapter introduces this Handbook on the Politics of Higher Education. It starts by advancing ideas and frames to position the following chapters, and then considers broad rationales for the book. The chapter closes by surveying the Handbook’s five parts, and providing a brief overview of the 28 chapters that follow.