What is Public Management?

What is Public Management? [Photo (cc) flickr.com Victor1558/Eric Fischer]

The study of public policy and management addresses two subjects that are often treated separately academically, but which in practice are closely inter-related: the process of developing and implementing public policy on the one hand, and the delivery of public services on the other.

For practitioners working in a public service field - whether through a governmental, voluntary or private sector organisation - this relationship between policy-making and management is crucial. Policy-making shapes what organisations and individuals seek to achieve in tackling public needs and problems, but it is through management and leadership skills that these policy intentions are realised. Moreover, the experience gained from delivering services on the ground should be a vital component of good policy-making.

Austerity, globalisation, technology and changing organisational boundaries all have huge implications for public managers.

Public policy and management has become increasingly complex, fuelled by:

  • The impact of austerity, in compounding the social and economic problems which are at the heart of public policy-making, while at the same time reducing the resources available to tackle them.
  • The effects of globalisation, which mean that international, national and local problems are intertwined to an increasing extent, with implications especially for governments.
  • The potential but also the challenges of digital technology for re-shaping relationships between governments and their citizens.
  • Changing organisational boundaries, with collaboration across sectors – public, private, non-governmental and civil society – becoming increasingly important.

These challenges have huge implications for public managers and the skills that they need, and reinforce the inter-connectedness of policy-making and management. A key skill - perhaps the key skill - is the capacity to learn and to develop professionally.

Studying Public Policy and Management

The Department of Social Work and Social Policy has a long tradition of professional development in this field, and since 2003 has combined this depth of experience with high quality and award winning online teaching and learning.

Our programmes reflect these important connections between public policy and management. As they are delivered online, they also provide two other kinds of connections:

  • Between theory and practice, as students are able to apply their learning immediately within their workplace.
  • Between different countries, organisations and sectors. Students currently span 70 countries and are drawn from governmental, voluntary and private organisations, ranging from local to international in scope.

They enable practitioners to apply a unique blend of academic knowledge, practical skills and wider understanding to the challenges of the current public service context.

Our programmes