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Minnowbrook I-III


Description: The twenty-yearly milestone conferences in 1968, 1988 and 2008 were organised to reflect on the future of PA from an USA perspective. The 'Minnowbrook'- process, initially, was dialectic, based on small groups, within a specific (USA) context. The ambition was "through the demonstration of a compelling manifest expertise, assert an authority of legitimacy and thereby influence the course of the future inquiry and endeavour in Public Administration" (Marini, 1971:7). Apart from a national and international political context, there were other elements that were significant. First, several disciplines had 'revolts' and were about to shift too. There was 'new' sociology, 'new' history, 'new' political science. A combination of young intellectual revolts and confrontational politics, also at universities, added to 'turbulent times' (Waldo, 1968).

 

Minnowbrook I (1968):

The Minnowbrook I Perspective reflected and helped to catalyse a 'new' Public Administration. It also helped to set new agendas for new topics and focused on adaptation, capacity and organisational development, normative and empirical theories, comparative Public Administration, policy-making, and rationality. The mayor concern was relevance. These debates were embedded in the specific context of the Vietnam War and the student revolts. The prominent term was "New Public Management".

 

Minnowbrook II (1988):

Minnowbrook II was again driven by an awareness of a changed world with a PA which was not fit for that purpose. There was a new awareness of the prominence of interdependence and interconnectedness of policy issues, private-public organisations, and nation-states, combined with a cultural diversity in a variety of forms (workforce, public, world). This pushed the participants to conclude that problems ultimately cannot be solved but only can be ameliorated. One of the new topics was the focus on feminist views on and in Public Administration. Even if Minnowbrook II built upon its previous version and for some could be considered as a further development of New Public Administration, there were significant differences and concerns. The 1988 version of Minnowbrook was influenced by post-modern thoughts.

 

Minnowbrook III (2008):

Minnowbrook III combined critique with a historical perspective and new topics. A whole range of emerging questions included 'black public administration', PA in Asia, Global PA, the role of networks, and the impacts of markets. But the main topic that surfaced was the impact of globalization on the field of Public Administration. This included "increased studies in comparative public administration, more public policy research across international boundaries and the increased role of international organisations in governance" (O´Leary et.al, 2010: 282). A second focus was on collaborative governance. The third major topic was the role of information technology. Again, the most crucial topic was relevance.

 

References:

Bailey, M. T. and R. T. Mayer (ed.) 1992. Public Management in an Interconnected World, Essays in the Minnowbrook Tradition. New York: Greenwood Press.

Marini, F. (ed.). 1971. Toward a New Public Administration, The Minnowbrook Perspective. Scranton: Chandler Publishing.

O'Leary, R., D. M. Van Slyke and S. Kim (ed.). 2010. The Future of Public Administration around the World, The Minnowbrook Persective. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.