Edited by Andrew Massey
Chapter 14: After public administration scholarship
The chapter begins by critiquing current US (and Dutch) public administration scholarship and journal publishing for being narrow and asserting a ‘One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church’ positivistic approach to the study of the discipline. It argues that ‘the focus of PA today is gaming the real idea of PA as a scholarly discipline or area, is focusing at best on producing shadows on the wall of the cave, so that content – one could argue – summarily falls to the side’. This is similar to political science and economics, but in those subjects, it doesnot matter as they have only a tenuous relationship to reality. In public administration, however, it does matter as the purpose of research in public administration is to connect theory and practice; to be useful. The problem is that the application of method has become the point, not the tool, privileging form over content. He calls for a recognition of methodological and cognitive diversity, especially in regard to Non-Western Public Administration and the resurrection of the study and development of public administration philosophy. After all, he ponders, if we cannot do things differently to machines then his apocryphal Dutch Professor could write papers using a computer algorithm; perhaps some already do.
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