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Teaching Public Management: Between Academic Disciplines. Teaching Methodology for Students in Economics and Business Administration

This electronic instructional material is a result of a PRIMUS Program Project in 21.01-31.05.2014Supported by the ESF and co-funded by The Chair of Public Economics and Policy at FEBA and Estonian Science Foundation Grant no 8580

Different challenges in Europe, but also in the US and Japan, such as ageing societies, deficits in public budgets as well as globalisation, the strengthening of international organisations, etc. Are among the reasons why public management has risen to the spotlight (Pollitt, Bouckaert 2011:8). The reforms of the 1980s and early 1990s tended to fragment public sector organizations, producing fewer large, multi-purpose organisations and more single- or few-purpose organizations, each pursuing more explicitly defined sets of goals and targets (Bouckaert et al., 2010). These tendencies show that the typical understanding of how to teach public sector issues in the fields of public finance, economics and policy requires a somewhat different approach, looking more towards the internal structure of the government. This instructional material is an attempt to try to conceptualise how public management could be taught for students of economics and business administration with the help of means familiar to them from their fields. Therefore, it is quite a different approach from the field of public administration. In addition, as public management has been taught in diferent countries very differently (Kickert 2005), we have attempted to join here the continental tradition with the Anglo-American approaches, which has not been an easy task, so we have to admit that the first approach still dominates.

Public managers require different knowledge and skills, which can develop during the university study programmes. For example, the competence model for Estonian top public officials stresses the following skills and qualities: reliability, dedication, management capabilities and focus on citizens; capabilities of legal awareness, strategic management and policy design; skills for the management of people, resources and processes; cooperation, network creation and communication capabilities; and finally, skills for self-management1. By collecting some of the above and being more specific (similar to Powell et al. 2014), we have agreed that the general learning outcomes of public management teaching should aim to teach the future managers:

  1. To lead and manage public organisations (bureaus and enterprises)
  2. To participate in and contribute to the process of public policy
  3. To analyze, synthesize, think critically, and solve problems
  4. To articulate a public service perspective
  5. To communicate and interact productively with the workforce and citizenry

We have applied in this instructional material teaching methods that help to achieve these aims. The teaching activities, together with questions and exercises, are presented in special sub-chapters. We have collected some summarizing questions for assessing the declarative knowledge but have also included exercises and other assignments (including some “fieldwork”) for applying the concepts in theoretical and practical problem-solving. As the managing competences are relevant, special attention is paid to the teamwork activities during the study programme. We include in the programme formal lectures as well as the introduction to the concepts, discussion of short cases and exercises. The interactive (or participative) lectures are not described in greater detail; only the topics and some specific exercises are presented. The lecturers are encouraged to use the materials presented in Bligh (1998), Exley, Dennic (2004), Gibbs et al. (1987), Huxham (2005) and Morss, Murray (2005) to learn how the lecture can be made more effective.

Participants will be expected to study all assigned materials (given in sub-chapters called Readings for Students) and to complete specific homework assignments prior to the class meetings. The lecturer will normally devote a part of each lecture or seminar to the discussion of the homework assignments. The objective here is to clarify and elaborate on certain concepts because of their special relevance or difficulty. In particular, participants are encouraged to ask questions and to request that particular points be explained in more detail if they remain confused or uncertain about specific items.

The structure of this material follows the same pattern for each sub-chapter. First, the specific learning outcomes in connection to the general learning outcomes listed above are given for each sub-chapter. Thereafter, the content of the concepts that need to be discussed in public management is presented. However, it is only a very short description of the content and not a material ready for use as a textbook. The purpose of this material lies rather in the collection of ideas, models and theories useful for teaching public management for students in economics and business administration. In addition, when we have found that sufficient coverage of the topics is given in existing textbooks, we have not repeated this material, but rather suggested it for reading. Teaching public management for students from other fields can be also considered to be based on this material, but this requires a more graphic and intuitive approach, and in this case formal analysis needs to be avoided. The content is followed by a reading list for students, teaching activities, assessment requirements, assessment methods and respective questions, exercises and assignments that serve as examples.

The content is organised as follows. The first chapter tries to answer the question how to jõin different scientific perspectives in teaching and learning public management. Thereafter, the microeconomic foundations of public management are given, which connects microeconomics and business economics to the public management field. The macroeconomic foundations of public management connect fiscal policy and the effects of revenues and expenditures, public activity in sectors, etc. Teaching management concepts for the public sector draws a link between the management and organisation theory fields and discusses how different management concept can be applied in the public sector. Teaching public sector reforms comprises functional and territoriaal reforms by joining the traditional background of fiscal federalism, to location theory and principalagent approach. The reader will find in the beginning of each chapter how different topics are related to the specific and general learning outcomes that we aim to achieve.

We are very grateful to Ms. Ülle Maidla, Ms. Saima Ukrainski, Ms. Hanna Kanep, teams of re:finer and Luisa tõlkebüroo for extensive support in editing, designing and proofreading this material. All the remaining errors and faults are ours.

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978-9949-481-67-5
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Prof. Dr. Dr.h.c. Peter Friedrich
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