What, fundamentally, is public management? This question is rarely answered clearly and confidently, whether by students of public management or academics in the field. This book answers this question, as its readers come to know why and how public management is a design-oriented professional discipline.
The argument of the book is grounded in Herbert Simon's ideas about design-oriented professional disciplines. However, Michael Barzelay's argument runs counter to the idea that public management is a design science. It envisions the discipline as a professional practice that requires the thoughtful and skilful use of purposive theories of public organizations, along with reverse-engineered design-precedents, in problem-solving for public programs and organizations. How professional knowledge about public management is to be expanded through research and analytical synthesis is therefore a major thrust of the book's overall argument.
Michael Barzelay develops these arguments in a unique way, including guiding the reader through a fictional "Public Management Gallery" featuring key contributions to purposive theorizing about public management as a professional practice. The book is an essential resource for those wishing to strengthen the professional practice of public management – and the discipline – through education and research immediately and for years to come.
'By treating problem-solving as designing processes that convert existing to preferred conditions, this book takes up an ambition to set an intellectual foundation for public management whose practices can be improved by design-oriented professional knowledge. The book extends the Simon-Bardach traditions but presents ideas in vivid ways, making itself a brand new contribution to research and pedagogy in public management.'
– Yijia Jing, Fudan University, China
'Michael Barzelay is the mentor needed by all of us interested in seeing – and designing – how public management as an enterprise can be part of creating a better future for everyone. The best mentors put their hand on your shoulder and point to what you ought to be doing, how, and why. Michael's book is that hand and it shows the way forward.'
– John M. Bryson, University of Minnesota, US
'Michael Barzelay offers a compelling account of the development of what he aptly and creatively describes as a "design-oriented, professional discipline" – the field of public management. In doing so, he helps all those laboring in this particular vineyard to understand more precisely what they are about, and the standards they need to meet if they are to be both intellectually responsible and useful to those practicing within this important professional domain. I never expected to have my own work so thoughtfully and critically reviewed, but emerged from this experience heartened and invigorated by the continuing challenge of developing the field further with Michael as our guide.'
– Mark H. Moore, Harvard University, US
Michael Barzelay, Department of Management, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), UK.