Plenary: Recovering the ‘craft’ of Public Administration in Network Governance


(Cette session sera présenté en anglais.)

This lecture reflects on trends in governance in the face of challenges that include fragmentation and complexity.  We have witnessed a shift from the new public management (NPM) to the new public (or network) governance (NPG). This shift challenged our ideas about the role of the state; often summarised as a shift from rowing to steering.  With the shift came an arsenal of specific public service reforms associated with performance measurement, marketisation, and choice in service delivery.  Reform succeeded reform with no time for the intended changes to take place, no evaluation, so no clear evidence of either success of failure.  Rather, we are left with the dilemmas created by the overlapping residues of past reforms. Yet the reforms keep on coming. This lecture offers a stock take of the reform journey and seeks to answer the question of how do we reinvent bureaucracy for network governance. I suggest we need to recover the craft of public administration. The classical Weberian bureaucrat working in a hierarchy of authority and conserving the positive state tradition remains a central figure but now there are many more skills to master.  Some skills are increasingly commonplace; for example, regulating, and entrepreneurial leadership. Others have an archaic ring, but old virtues have acquired a new salience; for example, diplomacy, and prudence or practical wisdom.  I conclude we need to sift through detritus of past reform to identify what worked and to ‘reinvent’ the bureaucracy we needlessly cast aside for the fashion of the day.

Recovering the ‘Craft’ of Public Administration in Network Governance

Rod Rhodes is Professor of Government at the University of Southampton (UK); and Professor of Government at Griffith University (Brisbane, Australia). Previously, he was Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University (2006-11); and Director of the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University (2007-8).

His main areas of research are network governance, and elite ethnography. He is the author or editor of some 30 books including, Understanding Governance (Open University Press, 1997). His recent books include: Lessons of Governing. A Profile of Prime Ministers’ Chiefs of Staff (with Anne Tiernan, Melbourne University Press 2014); Everyday Life in British Government (Oxford University Press 2011); and The Oxford Handbook of Political Leadership (jointly edited with Paul ‘t Hart, Oxford University Press, 2014).

He is life Vice-President of the Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom; a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia; and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (UK). He has also been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and he was editor of Public Administration from 1986 to 2011. In 2012, he was awarded International Research Association for Public Management and Routledge Prize for Outstanding Contribution to Public Management Research. In 2013, he was awarded the Special Recognition Award by the Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom for his outstanding contribution to political science.

Monday, July 21st
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Palais des congrès