Call for Papers: Comparative Public Administration in a Globalized World


Public Administration Review Symposium

Comparative Public Administration in a Globalized World
Moving Beyond Standard Assumptions towards Increased Understanding

Increasing interconnectedness, collaboration, and competition in today’s globalized and multipolar world necessitate a deeper understanding of how and why administrative practices differ across regions and what that means for collaborative potential and performance. Until now, two contrasting scholarly perspectives dominate. The first perspective emphasizes divergence as it suggests that public servants in various hemispheres hold divergent sets of values and attitudes engrained in their respective traditions. In this often oversimplified view, the developing world’s traditions are characterized by a collectivist approach, top-down power structure, loyalty, subordination and patronage, whereas the ‘Western’ tradition is claimed to be based on rule of law, political neutrality, bureaucratic autonomy, and detached ‘managerial’ professionalism.

The second perspective emphasizes global convergence in administrative practices and norms resulting from greater academic, economic and political exchanges as well as the alleged universal adoption of New Public Management and Good Governance paradigms. Some even claim such universalistic models are preferable, implying that Western-inspired transition should be embraced rather than rejected on particularistic grounds. Once again, this perspective often overgeneralizes complex institutional and cultural realities.

Indeed, some studies highlight considerable differences within each of the mayor traditions. For instance, Asian countries under the Confucian tradition such as China, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea are not only distinct from non-Confucian countries, they themselves differ tremendously in terms of the role of government and administrative practices and behavior (e.g., ‘Japanese exceptionalism’ vs ‘China’s market socialism’).

However, empirical comparative studies in Public Administration that take into account local and regional particularities in their design, constructs, and interpretation of results, are scarce, with the exception of studies into specific constructs such as public service motivation, work values, and performance appraisal systems. Consistently, scholars engaged in comparative efforts highlight the theoretical, methodological, and empirical difficulties in making cross-national comparisons of public agencies, employees, and practices, as research instruments and assumptions often originate from Western countries. Thus, there is a serious need today for adopting more context-sensitive and balanced approaches to advance our scholarly understanding of administrative systems and practices in different regions and nations.

Based on the above observations, for this PAR Symposium, we invite manuscripts on comparative public administration that contain novel empirical, theoretical, as well as methodological contributions. Scholars and practitioners are encouraged to submit high-quality papers that deal with (but are not limited to) the following issues and questions:

1. The contextual determinants shaping administrative systems and practices, including historical factors (e.g., non-colonial vs. colonial legacies), politico-ideological outlooks (e.g., capitalist vs. socialist state structures), and socio-cultural issues (e.g., ethnic composition, cultural tradition, and religious beliefs). For example, to what extent do such deep-rooted traditions determine public service professions, practices, and values in different regions, and how can we classify and study their dynamics? To what extent do long-standing ideologies, social norms and cultural-religious traditions still impact public administration and public management?

2. The institutional and structural factors relating to public administration, such as state
formations and state-society relationship (e.g., the welfare vs developmental state), forms of government (e.g., parliamentary vs presidential systems), and interplay between institutional units (between politics and administration, between the executive and the legislative branch, and between the central and local government). How do these institutions and structures affect administrative practices, and vice versa, and how can we better understand the mechanisms at play?

3. The normative dimensions of public administration, including issues of ethics, values, and norms. How do the public sectors in different parts of the world compare in terms of values such as efficiency, accountability, neutrality, and representation? Why do these differences exist and how they manifest themselves? Do they stand in the way of more convergence and collaboration between Western and non-Western countries? What is the potential for building a “non-Western” or developing public administration approach for teaching and research in a field normatively dominated by Western scholars, concepts, and assumptions?

4. Internal management issues such as motivation, leadership, personnel management, and performance management. Do significant regional differences exist between these internal administrative issues? What are the theory-practice gaps between formal rules and actual practices, especially in developing countries? Should they reconsider or completely re-design existing management instruments and approaches? How do we design comparative research on such management issues in light of existing differences in traditions, cultures, and languages? How can we improve cross-cultural learning to facilitate knowledge exchange and policy transfer?

Manuscripts should be submitted by 1 March 2018 to Zeger van der Wal (, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. After our initial screening of all submissions, the authors of selected papers will be invited to submit their papers online directly to Public Administration Review for double-blind review. The final publication decisions will be made by the PAR Editors. Each manuscript must comply with the PAR style guidelines.

Guest Editors:
Zeger van der Wal (Associate Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National
University of Singapore, Affiliate Chair Professor, Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs, Leiden University),

Caspar van den Berg (Associate Professor, Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs, Leiden University),

M. Shamsul Haque (Professor, Department of Political Science, National University of