• Class Number 8672
  • Term Code 2960
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Amanda Smullen
    • Dr Amanda Smullen
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/07/2019
  • Class End Date 25/10/2019
  • Census Date 31/08/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 29/07/2019
SELT Survey Results

This course introduces students to the core themes, theories, contemporary and historical experiences of public sector management and administration. The scholarship of public management and administration is located within a transnational, comparative and longitudinal context, wherein you will be exposed to international trends of best practice in public administration over time. You will learn to examine public sector management reforms through a range of theoretical lenses including political, sociological and economical. Moreover, you will learn to examine and distinguish between attributes of political administrative tradition, organizational function, and sequences in development, and how these shape public management reform trajectories.
Topics covered include political administrative traditions, administrative doctrines and organizational principles, privatizing and devolving the state, collaborative governance and networks (in multi-level/federal contexts), institutions of accountability, performance measurement, transparency and experimental/democratic learning.  

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Demonstrated ability to analyse and evaluate aspects of public management and administration in a comparative context;

demonstrated ability to participate constructively in class discussion of issues relating to public management;

demonstrated ability to develop a detailed proposal for reform of a particular public institution or process.

Research-Led Teaching

The course readings and assignments incorporate a number of contemporary research themes in public administration and particularly the research projects of Dr Smullen pertaining to agency reform and federalism.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Week 1: Introduction: Key Concepts This week’s class provides an introduction to the organisation of the course, including the assessment requirements. We also look at the main concepts and distinctions, including: the contrast between the public, the private commercial, and the non-profit sectors. We set out the focus in the course on foundations of the administrative state and reform traditions. Comparative approaches to public administration are introduced.
2 Lecture - Week 2: Contrasting constitutional traditions This week we lay the foundations for comparative analysis of modern public management by examining the main traditions of Western public administration, including those of the United States, the United Kingdom, leading countries of continental Europe and Asia. These traditions were subsequently exported internationally as part of the era of colonial expansion. During the nineteenth centuries most European countries adopted a form of the administrative state in response to challenges such as industrialisation and democratisation, and since this time many developing countries have had reforms or institutional hybrids imposed upon them. Significant institutional and cultural differences existed (and still remain) between the various approaches and traditions.
3 Lecture - Week 3: Foundations of bureacuracy In this week we look at three classic analyses of modern public administration from three different countries –Northcote-Trevelyan (UK), Woodrow Wilson (US) and Max Weber (Germany). What do they have in common and how do they differ? Can they be combined into a ‘traditional’ model of bureaucracy? Can administration be separated from politics? And how useful is this separation to developing or non-western countries? We begin to discuss comparative approaches in public administration in more detail in this lecture and examine traditional small n cross case comparisons.
4 Lecture - Week 4: Professional values or external accountability We begin with the classic interchange between two major public administration scholars, Herman Finer (University of London) and Carl Friedrich (Harvard) about the proper extent of administrative discretion, which continues the theme of the contrast between politics and administration. Should public servants look primarily to external direction (especially from elected politicians) or should they follow their own professional values? Does the answer vary between political and administrative traditions? The issues have resurfaced in debates over the use of the concept of public value in management. NB: The first short quiz for the course will be conducted on this day
5 Lecture - Week 5: Time, sequences and reform trajectories This week we take a bit of a leap out of the foundational aspects of public administration to discuss comparison. This is meant to assist in preparing you for your final assignment, but also to direct your attention in the upcoming weeks on different periods of public management reform. We jump forward to more contemporary periods to look at the role of time in studies of public management reform. Besides static comparisions where political administrative tradition are used to explain similarities and differences, researchers also identify timing and the sequence of events as shaping the trajectory and outcomes of reforms. We look at some examples of this kind of comparison.
6 Lecture - Week 6: Criticism of bureaucracy and new public management This week we begin with classic critiques of bureaucracy by William Niskanen (from an economic, public choice perspective) and from David Osborne and Ted Gaebler (from a management perspective). We also examine an alternative public choice analysis by Patrick Dunleavy. These analyses form background to the ‘New Public Management’ movement of the 1980s and 1990s.
7 Lecture - Week 7: New Public Management and devolution of control In this topic, we examine more closely some of the reforms associated with the New Public Management, particularly moves to remove certain public functions from direct political control, through such measures as the outsourcing of government functions to the private sector, the creation of arms-length executive agencies and state-owned enterprises, and transferring ownership to the public sector though full-scale privatisation. How successful have these reforms been in increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of government services? Have the boundaries of the state been significantly altered?
8 Lecture - Week 8: After New Public Management –networks and ‘governance’ This week we look at models of public administration that have emerged to replace or supplement the emphasis on New Public Management. These centre on the related concepts of networks and governance and emphasise horizontal cooperative relationships. Governance has become a third model that is contrasted with both bureaucracy and New Public Management. We identify aspects of government where network analysis is particularly appropriate and inquire whether governance is intended to supplement or supersede other models. We also examine the relationship between ‘governance’ and ‘good governance’.
9 Lecture - week 9: Accountability challenges This week we take up some issues of public sector accountability, particularly those associated with recent movements in public sector reform. Starting with the standard model of hierarchical accountability to political leaders, supplemented by other avenues of legislative and legal accountability, we look at the accountability effects of other governance models, including New Public Management and networks. For instance, do outsourcing and privatisation reduce public accountability? What problems of accountability are caused by horizontal networks and multi-level governance?
10 Lecture - week 10: Performance management and measurement This week we look more closely at performance management, in particular at the use of performance measurement to set targets and assess performance. Is performance management confined to approaches associated with the New Public Management or is it of wider applicability? How far can performance be successfully quantified? How far does measurement lead to distortions and goal displacement?
11 Lecture - week 11: Public sector reform –one path or many? This week we look at international public sector reform, particularly within the developed democracies, and discuss whether there is a single public sector reform movement. Some commentators argue in favor of convergence in public administration, that globalisation is forcing all countries to adopt a common set of governance principles, though at different speeds. On the other hand, others argue that the similarities are few and superficial and that fundamental institutional and cultural differences will continue to be dominant.
12 Lecture - Week 12: Thinking about federalism and governance This week we continue our consideration of network and governance perspectives but then in the context of federal systems of government. This week has been added to the course in recognition of the current Australian debate about reforming Australian federalism and the whitepaper that is currently underway. We consider the federalism debate from perspectives of public management and governance structures.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
In class quiz 20 % 15/08/2019 22/08/2019 1, 2
Class Assignment 20 % 26/08/2019 02/09/2019 1, 2, 3
Case study brief analysis 20 % 21/10/2019 28/10/2019 2, 3
Comparative research assignment 40 % 11/11/2019 28/11/2019 1, 2, 3, 4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 15/08/2019
Return of Assessment: 22/08/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2

In class quiz

This is a 45 minute in-class quiz based on the lectures and readings from wk 1- 4. There are no surprises in the quiz, it simply requires you to demonstrate your knowledge of the course materials to date. More information will be provided in class. The quiz will be held on week 4, 15 August 2019.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 26/08/2019
Return of Assessment: 02/09/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3

Class Assignment

This paper is due on Monday 26 August, 2019, 23:55. It is meant to assist you in preparing for your final assignment.

Use the following compulsory readings (and if you wish the readings from the course to date), to answer part A (in 1000 words) and part B (in 1000 words) questions about research in Comparative Public Sector Management, and specifically about comparative research of public agencies and public sector reform.

Pollitt, C. (2016). Theory In Pollitt, C. Advanced Introduction to Public Management and Public Administration, chap. 2

Pollitt, C & others 2004, ‘Modern agencies- the ideal type’,…  How governments do things through semi-autonomous organizations.… Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 30-46.… 

Carpenter, D. (2000). State building through reputation building. Coalitions of esteem and program innovation in the national postal system 1883-1913. Studies in American Political Development 121-155. (pp.121-128 and 149-144 are sufficient).

Moses, J. & Knutsen, T. (2007). The comparative method (chapter5) In Ways of Knowing. Basingtonstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Goetz, G. & Mahoney, J. (2012). Causal mechanisms and process tracing In A Tale of Two Cultures. Ch. 8.

Part A

What are the linking or intervening variables/factors that Carpenter (2000) argues lead to the Post Offices’ expansion of autonomy over time?

What according to Goetz & Mahoney is a causal mechanism, and how might it be relevant to Carpenter’s analysis of Post Office Agency over time?

Using Moses & Knutsen 2007 & Pollitt et al. 2004) describe the method of agreement and the method of difference and provide an example of one cross case selection of two agencies that would comply with either method of agreement or method of difference.

Part B

Using all the above readings, prepare an initial research design that can be used for your final assignment (approx.. 1000 words). Please include: A brief research question or objective, the agencies or public sector reform and/or country/ies you wish to research, the reason for the case selection, and whether the study will be over time or across cases. Identify theories you wish apply.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 21/10/2019
Return of Assessment: 28/10/2019
Learning Outcomes: 2, 3

Case study brief analysis

This assignment has two components. First, it requires you to work in a group on an allocated case that will be provided in the early weeks of the course eg. by wk5. It is an opportunity to also delve into a particular theme of the course from weeks 6-10. The assignment requires students to present (a provided) case study that relates to that week's reading and identify how the theories from that week's readings relate to the course. Group presenters are required to both present and then lead a discussion on their case. Second, in order to obtain a grade for the course, individual students must prepare a brief 1500 word paper on one or more public management problems in the case and how the theory of that week provides insight into the case (or not) and how to respond to the challenges presented. The papers describing the case study are due on: Monday 21 October, 2019 at 23:55. See rubric below for more details.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 11/11/2019
Return of Assessment: 28/11/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4

Comparative research assignment

Using material from the course and other relevant materials, critically analyze, from a comparative (over time or across cases) and theoretical perspective, a particular public sector agency or reform event or process, either actual or proposed. The comparative case assessment maybe across countries or organizations and for international students it could include an evaluation of a 'best practice' international reform and how this was adopted in a given political/administrative context. The word limit is 3500 words and the assignment is due Monday November 11, 2019, 23:55.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
Dr Amanda Smullen
(02) 6125 8266

Research Interests

Agencies and statutory authorities, multi-level governance, institutions

Dr Amanda Smullen

By Appointment
Dr Amanda Smullen
02 6125 7716

Research Interests

Dr Amanda Smullen

By Appointment

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