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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Hood in the field....

If all goes as scheduled, I should have my hands on my revitalized desktop computer by this evening -- which means a couple of days of rebuilding the program and data hard drives....

Today's reshelving involves two books by Christopher Hood. Now at Oxford, Hood has been around a bit and made significant contributions to the field of public administration -- or should I say, public management. The term New Public Management is typically attributed to him, although ironically coined in an article where he claims that it is indefinable.... I like his general approach of framing PA through typologies.

The man is prolific, but I think these two works are especially important...

  • Hood, Christopher. 1998. THE ART OF THE STATE: CULTURE, RHETORIC, AND PUBLIC MANAGEMENT. Oxford ; New York: Clarendon Press. Applying the culture theory perspective derived from Mary Douglas's work, Hood posits seven propositions about public administration/management in this relatively short book. Also puts Bentham back in the discussion of PA.
  • Hood, Christopher, and Michael Jackson. 1991. ADMINISTRATIVE ARGUMENT. London: Dartmouth Publishers (UK). This is a pretty tough one to track down because of the obscurity of the press -- which is too bad because Hood and Jackson do the field of PA a great favor by analyzing the content and logic of basic premises used throughout the literature. The value of this exercise puts it somewhere between Herbert Simon's attack on the "proverbs of administration" and Jon Elster's demonstration of the value of proverbs as mechanism of explanation. The bottom line of this work, however, is that public administration is a field/profession that is built on assumptions rooted in rhetoric rather than either facts or values.
Hood is prolific, and I had the opportunity to meet him this past year at a seminar in Vienna on education reform. I suspect what attracts me to his work is it scepticism and logic, Great stuff, indeed....

I hope the next blog will be written on my desktop. While I really like my tablet/notebook, it would be nice to have both full screen and full keyboard to work with....


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