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Ross Guest: Teaching public sector leaders how to win economic debates

30 August 2020

News and media


Ross Guest headshot

Providing future public sector leaders with the tools to decipher economic arguments is the key to strong economic policy.

Professor Ross Guest, who leads ANZSOG’s Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) core subject Government in a Market Economy (GME), says that economics is still the dominant language in public policy discourse but “sometimes it is not used very well”.

“One of the things we try to do is to give the students the knowledge and understanding to spot dodgy arguments,” Professor Guest, who is also the Dean (Teaching and Learning) at the Griffith University Business School, said.

“To win the policy argument you’ve usually got to win the economic argument, so you’ve got to understand the economics of regulation, of policy and of programs.”

In a time of global uncertainty, public managers need to ensure they understand the forces impacting public administration and public policy, as well as the options at their disposal.

The EMPA, a two-year, part-time post-graduate degree, gives future leaders of the public sector, a new set of tools and concepts to strengthen their understanding of the public sector landscape and help them take the next step in their careers.

An understanding of economics is crucial to their work and their ability to deliver public value. GME provides a framework for evaluating policies, programs and regulations and gives EMPA students an understanding of economic tools and principles to enable them to evaluate policies, programs and regulations.

WATCH: Professor Ross Guest discusses Government in a market economy

“We look at health, transport, education and a whole range of government activities. It’s important to give students the tools to understand issues like bushfires and climate change and develop a response that takes into account all relevant information in a rigorous way, and to understand what the costs are and the benefits are of action,” Professor Guest said.

“Participants in this program learn how to make better decisions as public sector managers and to have a rigorous framework for making those decisions so they are in a better position to allocate scarce resources, and to design programs and regulations.”

GME is just one of the subjects in the EMPA, providing future public sector leaders with an opportunity to strengthen their policy toolkit that includes strategic thinking, policy design, evidence-based decision making, ethics and integrity and change management.

Since 2003, more than 70 EMPA students have gone on to hold roles as CEOs, secretaries or equivalent after completing the program.

Tailored to fit around the lives of busy public servants, the EMPA explores the core principles of public sector management, including public value and systems thinking. It will help you develop the strategic leadership capabilities you need to contribute at the highest levels of the public sector.

Students will build a network of their peers from across Australia and New Zealand, while learning from leading global academics and senior government practitioners.

EMPA applications are now open. For more information about the EMPA visit our website.