n Journal of Public Administration - Revisiting administrative 'capacity' in the context of public service transformation

Special issue 1
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



This article examines the issue and concept of administrative capacity in South Africa's public service. It critiques the use of the term capacity on conceptual grounds, by outlining three perspectives, two of which have been pre-eminent in the post-apartheid transformation of the public service. These are the of capacity and the of capacity, which function on the availability of sufficient resources (typically human/personnel) to implement programmes and deliver services. In contrast to these two perspectives, a third interpretation of capacity is pursued, which emphasises the influence of organisational and operational conditions on capacity. This article will argue, and illustrate using empirical data, that this third interpretation of capacity can offer useful contextual insights and give greater dimension to conventional and more narrow resource-based definitions of administrative capacity.

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