Department of Political Science


Public Management: Theories and Innovations

Course Code


Course Tutor

Dr Colin Provost (Department of Political Science)


One 3,000 word essay

Credit Value


About this course

In this course, we will examine the role of public bureaucracies in the policy making process, with a strong focus on reforms within and across public agencies, reforms collectively known as the “New Public Management”. 

We will begin with a look at some of the basic questions of public administration, such as, why do public bureaucracies exist, how have they evolved over time and why does their organisational structure matter for making public policy. From there, we will examine how bureaucratic agencies are constructed by politicians, as well as how politicians interact with bureaucrats, and how these interactions matter for public policy outcomes. 

Finally, we will analyse numerous reforms that have been implemented in public agencies across the world-reforms, such as privatisation, contracting and performance measurement.

Some of the questions we explore in this class include:

  • How does public sector organisation affect public policy outcomes?
  • Why are some agencies highly independent and autonomous while others are tightly controlled?
  • Does performance-related pay work for public sector employees?
  • Under what circumstances do governments contract out public services to the private sector? Is contracting cost-effective?
  • How reliable are indicators that measure public sector performance?
  • Under what circumstances do agencies successfully work together to implement policy?
  • What is the role of citizens in public management and policy implementation?
  • What effect will Brexit have on policy implementation and civil servant workload in the UK, in European Union institutions and in European Union member states?

By the end of this module, students should be able to understand why and how public agencies are designed and constructed as they are; why and how politicians and bureaucrats interact as they do, and how this affects public policy; and why and how New Public Management reforms have been implemented and what it means for policy outputs and outcomes.