n Journal of Public Administration - From public administration to governance : science or ideology?

Volume 47, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



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 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.

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