Public administrations vary from country to country; they reflect different circumstances, different histories and different philosophies about the role of government in a society. Since the 1980s, however, governments in many countries have undertaken reforms that are strikingly similar. These reforms have been helpful, but they represent an incomplete journey. There is not yet a shared sense that public organisations are aligned, in theory or in practice, with the global context or with the complex problems they are expected to address. Reforms still need a unifying framework to achieve their potential. This paper makes the case for such a framework - which is not necessarily arguing in favour of a ’one size fits all’ model of public administration. On the contrary, a unifying framework is a vehicle whereby our understanding of what was and what is reaches beyond anecdotes, and helps to forge what might be. A unifying framework would help practitioners understand the diversity of choices open to government, and their ramifications within cultural contexts and circumstances. It would also help practitioners make better sense of the diversity of practices in public administration.
These Occasional Papers are jointly published by ANZSOG and the (former) Victorian State Services Authority.
Bourgon, J. (2010). Serving beyond the predictable. SSA/ANZSOG Occasional Paper, 8. Melbourne: ANZSOG.