The issues of ‘democracy’ and good public administration or ‘good governance’ have largely been decoupled in theory and practice. This may be for several reasons – divisions between scholarly communities; ‘real politik’ in intergovernmental organisations; the Webberian idea that ‘bureaucracy’ is a relatively discrete phenomena; etc.
Whatever the reasons, it is clear we do not know enough about the following questions:
- In the early ‘western’ transitions to democracy (in Europe and North America), what was the inter-relationship between this and the rise of ‘progressive public administration’?
- Did public administration go through a qualitative transition in parallel with the democratic transitions in political systems?
- If so, what is different about PA under democratic and non-democratic political regimes?
Similar questions can be asked about many countries transitioning from colonial, authoritarian, military, communist and other non-democratic regimes.
The purpose of the proposed ‘Democracy and Public Administration (DPA) Study Group’ is to explore these issues. We do not expect to be able to definitively answer them all, but at a minimum to be able to establish what we already know and what remains to be discovered – i.e. develop a research agenda and community to take this beyond the term of the Study Group.
The DPA Study Group will especially try to combine both scholarly research and experiential accounts of public administration professionals who have been through recent transitions, such as those in eastern Europe.