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Best Practices Project


 
 
 
 
 
 Best Practices in
Public Management
 
History, Theory and Application 
 
 
 

 Monographs in Preparation

  Channels of Influence: Canada, the OECD, and Best Practices Advice
  The Pedagogy of Governance: Identifying What Is and What Should be Taught in MPP and MPA Programs

 Project Working Papers

  Should CAPPA Have a Core? Lessons from International Comparisons of MPP/MPA Curricula, Clark and Pal, 26 May 2015
  Mapping the Topics and Learning Outcomes of a Core Curriculum for MPP and MPA Programs, Clark, Eisen, Lennon, Pal, 26 May 2015
  Normed Core Topics, Clark, Eisen and Pal, NASPAA Conference, 1 November 2014
  Who's Listening? A Member Country's Relation to the OECD and its Public Management Advice. Pal and Clark, 4 July 2014
  Making Reform Stick: Political Capacity for Policy Change and Innovation. Pal and Clark, 22 May 2014
  Advice on Public Financial Management and Anti-Corruption: A Comparison of the OECD, IMF and World Bank, Clark and Pal, 22 May 2014
  What are the core curricular components of Master’s-level public management education and how is learning within them assessed? Clark, Eisen and Pal, 21 May 2014
  The New World of Standards in Public Management Pedagogy: Comparing Universal Accreditation Competencies with the Actual Content of MPP and MPA Programs, Clark and Pal, April 2014
  Channels of Influence: The Interaction between Canada and the OECD, Pal and Clark, April 2014
  Here be Dragons: Taxonomies of Public Policy and Management used in Recent Handbooks, Encyclopedias and Dictionaries, Clark and Pal, 24 January 2014
  Where the Streets Have No Name: Mapping the Discipline of Public Management, Clark and Pal, 17 April 2013
  Best Practices in Public Management: A Critical Assessment, Pal and Clark, 8 Mar 2013
  How the Harvard Kennedy School teaches management, leadership and the decision sciences, Clark, 20 January 2013
  Standards and Best Practices Working Paper, Minard and Pal, 30 Aug 2012
  Academic Respectability Meets Professional Utility: Canadian MPA/MPP Programs and Professional Competencies, Clark and Pal, 21 Nov 2011

 Conference Presentations and Abstracts

Abstract for a Paper accepted for publication in a special issue of Policy and Society, 2016
"The evolution and spread of MPA, MPP and similar programs in English-speaking countries," Ian D. Clark  and Leslie A. Pal. (See Proposal for a Themed Issue of Policy and Society.)

Panel Topic for the NASPAA Conference, Albuquerque, November 4-6, 2014
"Matching Competencies to Program Requirements: Approaches and Challenges in Accreditation," Leslie A. Pal, Chair. Proposed papers include: “Normed Topics: A Method for Adding Granularity to Required Competency Standards in MPP and MPA Programs," Ian D. Clark, Ben Eisen and Leslie A. Pal; “MPA Competencies: Are We Assessing the Right Cognitive Abilities?” Leslie A. Pal and Ian D. Clark

Presentation at the CAPPA Research Conference, Toronto, May 27-28, 2013
"Mapping the Discipline of Public Management (including early findings from the Atlas/Best Practices project)," Ian D. Clark and Leslie A. Pal.

Presentations at the  CAPPA Research Conference, Kingston, May 21-22, 2014
"Advice on Financial Management and Anti-Corruption: A Comparison of the OECD, IMF and World Bank," Ian D. Clark and Leslie A. Pal.
"What are the core curricular components of Mater's-level public management education and how is learning within them assessed?" Ian D. Clark, Ben Eisen and Leslie a. Pal.
 

Presentations at the IRSPM Conference, Ottawa, April 9-11, 2014
"Channels of Influence: The Interaction between Canada and the OECD," Leslie A. Pal and Ian D. Clark.
"The New World of Standards in Public Management Pedagogy: Comparing Universal Accreditation Competencies with the Actual Content of MPP and MPA Programs," Ian D. Clark and Leslie A. Pal.

This page describes a research project entitled Best Practices in Public Management: History, Theory and Application, funded by Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, led by Leslie A. Pal (Carleton University) and Ian D. Clark (University of Toronto). The project will have three principal outputs: the Atlas of Public Policy and Management and two monographs, with the working titles, Channels of Influence: Canada, the OECD, and Best Practices Advice and The Pedagogy of Governance: Curricular Content of the World's Best MPP and MPA Programs (see outlines by clicking on images above).

The primary interest of the project is in the diffusion of policy ideas on public sector reform and practice. In the last twenty years the "public sector" has become a target of continuous reform efforts, driven primarily by financial crises, global competition, and the now accepted principle that strategic advantage comes from an effective and efficient public sector. Moreover, there is a remarkable synchronicity in these reform efforts. Ideas like public-private partnerships, or anti-corruption strategies, become subjects of global conversations among international government organizations (IGOs), governments, NGOs, and think tanks. Ideas spread quickly, and are diffused through dense as well as extensive networks of actors.

This project probes this diffusion process in detail. The current phase is an analysis of advice provided by IGOs like the OECD, the World Bank and the UNDP (among others), on “best practice.” These organizations are a key source of advice to governments about what allegedly “works,” and moreover, they are crucial nodes in international networks where governmental and non-governmental actors meet, share ideas, and try to diffuse them globally as well as locally.

The project is not naïve about “best practice.” Whether particular practices are really “best” is open to debate. However, these international agencies do attempt to develop standards and norms that are often labeled as best practice, or implied to be. The project will gather as much of this advice as possible from these organizations over the past ten years, providing a publicly accessible database of what that advice has been, how it has evolved, and what its strengths and weaknesses are.

A key Atlas database for the first monograph is the Practice Advice Map, where the advice from the OECD (supplemented with entries from other international agencies) is organized in a hierarchy (the same hierarchy that applies to other components of analysis, such as teaching topics - see Atlas Framework for Analyzing Curricular Content). A key Atlas database for the second monograph is Teaching Topics Map, where topics taught in MPP and MPA programs are organized in the same hierarchy. At the top level are four domains: Tools and Skills; Institutions and Context; Management Functions; and Policy Sectors. Below each of these domains are public management “subjects.” For example, one subject under the Institutions and Context domain is Ethics and Accountability; and under the Management Functions domain, one subject is Public Financial Management. The third level is "topics" where "advisory topics” from international agencies and "teaching topics" from MPP and MPA programs can be organized by subject.

Each advisory topic entry is organized as follows: a Title which gives the topic of the advice; the Summary Advice; the Main Points that indicate the detailed content of that advice, often verbatim from given documents and sources; a Commentary by the research team; the Source from which the advice was taken; and the team member(s) who created the entry. Each teaching topic has a similar organization.

If you are interested in becoming involved with the project please contact the principal researchers (id.clark@utoronto.ca, leslie_pal@carleton.ca) or the research coordinator, Ben Eisen (ben.eisen@utoronto.ca).

 Current Project Team

  Ian D. Clark, Principal Investigator and Atlas Editor
  Leslie A. Pal, Principal Investigator and Atlas Editor
  Ben Eisen, Research Coordinator and Atlas Editor
  Dave Marshall, Atlas Administrator and MPP Candidate
  James Ban, Summer Research Intern and MPP Candidate
  Jennifer Spence, Research Assistant and PhD Candidate
  Mary Catharine Lennon, Advisor on Learning Outcomes and PhD Candidate
  Darko Gavrilovic, Systems Programmer, Faculty of Arts & Science

 Past Members of the Project Team

  Ruby Dagher, Research Assistant
  Sean Goertzen, Research Assistant
  Matthew Seddon, Research Assistant
  Joshua Tan, Research Assistant
  Katherine Valiquette, Research Assisant
  Emre Yurga, Research Assisant
  Khilola Zakhidova, Research Assistant

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© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance