Journal of Public Administration - Volume 47, Issue 1, 2012
Volumes & issues
Volume 47, Issue 1, 2012
The new and the old in the complex of power relations in the politics of knowledge - a polemic editorialSource: Journal of Public Administration 47, pp 1 –6 (2012)More Less
In the editorialisation of this 2012 March edition of the Journal of Public Administration I could not think of a more appropriate parlance with which to capture the thematic essence of the articles that comprise it than to say the greatness of scholarship is not in the age of a scholar, but in the wit and ingenuity employed to navigate unchartered epistemological grounds. It is in this context that this polemic editorial, nostalgic of the Minnowbrook intellectualism spawned by the complex of power relations in the contestation of intellectual space and the hegemonic gerontocracy competing with the new in shaping the evolution of public administration as a field of study, is themed.
'Humanities to come' and 'the university without condition' - transforming the humanities in South Africa : the persistence of unresolved national agenda issuesAuthor K. KondloSource: Journal of Public Administration 47, pp 7 –24 (2012)More Less
This article argues that transforming the humanities is about restoring the curious impulse, depth and purpose of 'the intellectual cause', the uncompromising quest for 'the truth'. In a country like South Africa it is also about the development of a discourse which articulates the 'African condition'; a discourse which African scholars can proudly own as theirs. This has not happened as yet, therefore the debate in the last section of this article is about 'the humanities to come - philosophical fragments'. The article examines the sources of the rather constricted transformation of humanities in South Africa and infers the direction transformed humanities at the university should be taking. However, the article emphasises that national issues of post-apartheid state formation, the superficiality of transformation at this level, and the fact that it filters down to the higher education system which the university is a part of, means the transformation of humanities will for a much longer time remain deformed. The analysis in the article draws inspiration from and is informed by Jacques Derrida's work Without alibi (2002), particularly his chapter titled 'The university without condition'. The 'to come' is derived from Derrida's notion of 'justice to come' (Derrida, 1997:306; Critchley, 2006:108).
The article uses these concepts as tools for reflections on the sources of the problems and future possibilities for the humanities in South Africa and perhaps, in the continent as a whole. The sources of the constricted transformation of the humanities, the article argues, are inextricably linked to the vicissitudes of the relationship between the state and the university and a higher level, the character of the national agenda of transformation. There is a negative dialectic at the very heart of post-1994 settlement - the dominance of continuities with the pre-1994 past undercuts the value of transformation, in economy, society and most importantly in the transformation of contents of knowledge and articulations of effective power within institutions of knowledge generation, particularly the university. The article proceeds to examine the policy landscape intended to transform higher education in South Africa, post-1994. It raises the question: to what extent have the policy objectives been achieved? In other words, how has the government fared in meeting the key elements indicated in its National Plan on Higher Education? There is obviously a mixed bag of successes and failures. The racial composition of universities has changed but the sense of ownership of the university space, both physical and intellectual, has not been transformed. The article also links the character the universities in South Africa acquired, post-1994, to the muted transformation of the humanities.
Author B.C. BashekaSource: Journal of Public Administration 47, pp 25 –67 (2012)More Less
Public administration scholarship of the 21st century has tended to focus more on recent paradigms of New Public Management (NPM) and its successor paradigm of governance while largely ignoring the strong foundation of century old paradigms of public administration. This approach, if persistently allowed in African universities, will create a serious knowledge deficit among the new crop of African scholars in the discipline of public administration. Where efforts have been made to consider the foundational paradigms of public administration through a historical trajectory, emphasis is again given to the evolution of public administration from American and European contexts, completely ignoring the indigenous African systems of administration. Yet, pre-colonial Africa had not only one but several systems of administration and governance structures that ought to be known by African students and scholars of public administration. In this author's view, our effort to re-examine the paradigms of public administration is an urgent one and as African scholars, we must equally reclaim the African traditional systems of administration in our scholarship. This article examines the paradigms of public administration and explores some of the indigenous systems of administration that need to be advocated for in the teaching of public administration. The purpose of the article is to reflect on how public administration as a field of study has shaped up, thereby enabling young scholars to appreciate the epistemological contexts of the discipline but also to re-examine how modern administrative challenges could be addressed by revisiting the old principles and practices which occupied the minds of the earliest scholars. Of course not all such principles and practices could be applied in addressing the current challenges. From the deflation of the politics-administrative dichotomy by Simon in 1946 and the puncturing of the science of administration by Dahl in 1947, the discipline of public administration has suffered a lack of a unified theoretical framework. The NPM at least tried to bring back this uniformity but this was short-lived and many scholars soon had to declare its death during the 1990s. The article first explores indigenous systems of administration and then re-examines the paradigms of public administration from the politics-administrative dichotomy (1887-1926), through the principles of administration (1927-1937), the era of challenge (1938-1947), the identity crisis (1948-1970), from public administration to public management (1970 to early 1990), from public management to governance (1990-2008) and to the new public governance debate (2010 to date).
Public administration theoretical discourse in South Africa and the developmental local government : a need to go beyond modern thinkingSource: Journal of Public Administration 47, pp 68 –87 (2012)More Less
The concept of a developmental local government was introduced while debates in Public Administration were in full swing to suit the post-apartheid state. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 necessitated a refinement of the discipline of Public Administration in South Africa. Local government transformation, however, took place after other spheres of government were transformed. It is argued that local government as a vehicle for realisation of envisaged development was underestimated by role players involved in the transformation of the South African government system. Debates in Public Administration are contributing in shaping the implementation of developmental local government. The space of public administration in terms of the Constitution presents an atmosphere for continuous engagement. The discourse surfaces beyond odds of mainstream public administration. The domination of the orthodox or modern mainstream public administration discourse had factored a simplistic engagement in local government. The society in which developmental local government is taking place is postmodern in nature; there is no unified criterion on which to base judgment of reality of one fact against another. Reality can only be determined locally without adhering to a one-size-fits-all scenario of modern thinking. Therefore the need for ongoing debate to enable realisation of developmental local government beyond limits of rational public administration discourse in South Africa is long overdue.
Author V.N. LouwSource: Journal of Public Administration 47, pp 88 –101 (2012)More Less
Governments have been launching major public sector reforms. Traditional public services are under pressure to transform and seem to be evolving - but into what? In the 1970s one could generally talk of public administration. In the 1980s came the new move to the New Public Management (NPM), and some to Public Administration and Management. Recently some authors have argued that there is a further shift from the NPM to governance. Although public sector reforms are influenced by global precedents, local dynamics necessitates specific responses from politicians, academics and public officials. This much is so in South Africa where evidence shows that theory played a secondary role in the praxis of public administration. Instead, that praxis is dictated by political agendas and what is taught at traditional universities and the universities of technologies are uncritically supportive of these agendas. The aim of this article is to provide a content analysis of the ongoing shift from the concept of public administration to governance by looking at the theories and approaches that have dominated the public administration arena from the traditional administration approach to the current governance approach. The article also seeks to investigate the reasons for this shift.
Source: Journal of Public Administration 47, pp 102 –112 (2012)More Less
The state of the public sector in South Africa is heavily influenced by particular histories of state administration related to the legacy of apartheid and the nature of the political transition to democracy. We suggest, however, that there is a paucity of scholarly work in the discipline of Public Administration which takes into account this legacy and the manner in which the public sector is embedded in broader social, political and economic relations. This has had significant consequences for the particular models of public administration adopted. In making our case for the importance of applying a historical lens to the study of the public sector, we draw on research on the incorporation of the former Bantustans into provincial government administration in South Africa.
Author F.M. Lucky MathebulaSource: Journal of Public Administration 47, pp 113 –132 (2012)More Less
South African scholarship, as a result of the colonial and apartheid context within which it developed, is disciplined by a hegemonic discourse formulated by a 'complex' with linked centres of persuasion interior or exterior to its desired true self. This complex spawns hegemonic limitations that are directly related to the inner beings of various scholar communities as they quarry new paths of intellectualism requisite for a democracy such as South Africa. This article examines this aspect of limitation. The axiomatic point of departure for this examination is the view that hegemony as, strictly speaking, with all things, is an inherently interpretative undertaking grounded in the mortal existentiality of an ideology (to be defended). In the South African context, apartheid and colonialism become a lived background against which scholarship and its hegemonic silences and nuances are foregrounded. The South African lived apartheid and colonial experience provides the main theatre of analysis with the public administration and management scholar community, a 'group' in close proximity with matters of government and statecraft, as an abstraction of the general.
Author K.G. PhagoSource: Journal of Public Administration 47, pp 133 –147 (2012)More Less
This article postulates for the quality of Public Administration scholarship. To support this postulation, a discussion on the transformation of higher education is undertaken. Further, an ingemination of scholarship functions is undertaken in an effort to contextualise Public Administration scholarship within the broader understanding of the expectation of what constitutes scholarship. A synthesis of scholarship functions is done to describe what qualities Public Administration scholars should identify with, in their quest to undertake scholarship activities. Finally, a postulation of Public Administration scholarship prospects is drawn to argue for the need to introduce a standardised professional framework. Such a framework is necessary in ensuring that Public Administration scholarship sustains itself.
Determining the role of academics in teaching and improving of public administration in the 21st centurySource: Journal of Public Administration 47, pp 148 –160 (2012)More Less
Public administration studies government functions including the implementation of government policies. It prepares public officials for careers in the public sector. As it is diverse in scope, it aims at advancing management and policies so that the government can function effectively. To better perform their functions, values such as equality, fraternity and democracy need to be inculcated in public officials. It is important to note that Higher Education Institutions need to intervene in training public officials in order to promote human development. This, in turn, poses an interesting paradox for Public Administration. Concerns such as the relevancy of public administration teaching and learning remain a huge challenge. Therefore this article examines the role of academics in improving public administration in the 21st century. This will be done by exploring the current challenges that public administration faces in the South African context. This article proposes the concept democratic curriculum as a solution to public administration challenges. To better explore this concept, this article further defines democracy and curriculum.
Theorising a democratic developmental state : issues of public service delivery planning and violent protests in South AfricaAuthor J.P. TsheolaSource: Journal of Public Administration 47, pp 161 –179 (2012)More Less
South Africa's impoverished settlements have in recent years been increasingly beset by violent protests that are, allegedly, about service delivery. However, the majority of these violent protests have paradoxically occurred exclusively in impoverished settlements where some services were delivered, disrupting the underlying infrastructure and existing services. Thus, the root causes of these violent protests remain contested, with views ranging from those that accept them as services-based to those portraying them as politically-motivated. This article analyses the service delivery planning approaches to distil the implications of the decisions as to which services are delivered or not delivered, and to theoretically situate the reasons underlying South Africa's violent "alleged" service delivery protests. It demonstrates that South Africa has adopted a regulatory planning approach which emphasises the attainment of "the optimal allocation of resources between all of the competing needs or uses within a society", leading therefore to the delivery of "impure public goods" for poor communities. The article argues that the advocacy planning approach is more suited to the impoverished settlements because it attempts to mobilise and channel resources to new or neglected uses, achieving in the process the legitimisation of new social objectives or a major re-alignment of existing objectives. Whereas the regulatory approach enforces reliance on private markets, the advocacy approach instigates for "the planner (who) represents the interests of a particular social group", with allegiances and responsibility solely dedicated to its needs.
The article asserts that the advocacy planning approach would ensure that service delivery for impoverished settlements allows for equal access for all in terms of quality and quantity in accordance with four fundamental principles of 'joint-supply', 'non-rivalness', 'non-excludability' and 'non-rejectability'. The article concludes that South Africa's service delivery planning approach lacks a 'public entrepreneur' who would ensure that state agencies commit infrastructure expenditure to underpin the delivery of services as 'pure public goods'. Theoretically, the article claims that the decisions as to which services are delivered or not delivered are at the core of the reasons for the recent violent protests.
Source: Journal of Public Administration 47, pp 180 –207 (2012)More Less
Despite the fact that the commitment to position South Africa as a developmental state has been part of the strategic policy objective for the transformation of the state and governance for some time now, the discourse on the concept is enmeshed in misconceptions. It is distorted and conflated with other concepts. Much of what is bandied about as signifying a developmental state is not consistent with the authoritative scholarship on the conceptualisation of the concept. The discourse largely lacks epistemological insight. It dangerously displays little understanding of the originative historical context of the concept. The paradigm from which the discourse on a developmental state is framed is porous, so much so that the concept is used to mean anything that its users want it to mean. A few examples of misconceptions inherent in the contemporary discourse on theorising South Africa as a developmental state are that it is a 'democratic state' - where the contention is that these concepts are synonymous - or is the antithesis of democracy, a 'service delivery state' or 'soviet-type socialism'. Some go even deeper in daring to suggest that all states are developmental. This thinking provides an opportunity for intellectual opportunism stretching the discourse to the extreme by exemplifying the apartheid state as a model of a developmental state. It ventures into the realm of speculation "merely [purporting] to take an interest in objective reality while it really operates outside the object which it pretends to deal with" (Mader, 2011:420) - meaning, for the purpose of this article, contradicting the "sequence of ideas" (Marx, 1975-2005:162) that undergird the conception and evolution of a developmental state.