Comparative Public Administration and Globalization

  • Jamil E. JreisatEmail author
Living reference work entry


Public Administration North American Free Trade Agreement World Economic Forum Comparative Politics African Union 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Comparative public administration is an approach to research and development of public administrative attributes and capacity in performing its responsibilities in different political, social, and economic systems.

Globalism is the evolving interconnections among nations of the world and the structures and processes of maintaining and enhancing such linkages in the international system.


Comparative public administration (CPA) is a search for patterns of administrative knowledge and actions worldwide. The global reality that evolved after the breakdown of the colonial order, at the end of WWII, stimulated cross-cultural public administration research and development. The broad interest in the concepts and practices of public administration in various political, economic, and social contexts broke the traditional narrow parochial boundaries of the field of public administration to become a global subject extending to all countries and regions. Early case studies of administrative systems in countries such as China, Thailand, Vietnam, Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, Brazil, and others disseminated knowledge, enriched practices, and expanded the horizon of public administration to become a global field of theory and practice. Eventually, comparative public administration research enhanced the global knowledge of the vital processes of reforming governance. The following pages articulate and define mutual influences of the comparative cross-cultural administrative studies and the evolving reality of the globalization processes.

Understanding Globalism

Globalization has been defined in many different ways, but, consistently, it referred to the increasing interconnections among countries. People around the world are more linked to each other than ever before. Information and money flow more rapidly. Goods and services produced in one part of the world are often obtainable in all parts of the world. International travel is more common. International communication is simple and fast. Based on effects, globalization is usually recognized as being driven by a combination of economic, technological, sociocultural, and political factors. The literature regularly refers to the transnational circulation of ideas, languages, or popular culture as stimulated by globalism.

Assessments of effects and explanations of stimulants of globalization vary, depending on what aspect is subject of consideration. Some explanations focus on market forces as the main inducers of globalization. Globalization has been viewed as a creation of the multinational corporate labyrinth, a by-product of the information-scientific-technological revolution, an edifice of the World Bank, or a natural evolution of the production forces in contemporary societies (Farazmand 1999; Thomas 1999). Perhaps, each of these factors and some others have an effect on the process of globalization. What really matters at this time is to be able to appraise and to understand the real consequences of globalization.

Certainly, globalization is a key aspect for the world economic development. Proponents point out that globalization actually brings developmental opportunities and benefits. Developing countries that increased their integration into the world economy over the past few decades attained higher growth in incomes, longer life expectancy, and better education. Many countries like China, India, South Korea, Brazil, and Mexico have adopted domestic strategies and developed institutions that enabled them to take advantage of global markets and, thus, increased the share of trade in their GDP.

In its most positive results, globalization tears down walls and modifies attitudes of nations that are based on suspicion, mutual distrust, and ambition. Globalization has strengthened the nexus and has helped us to know each other’s needs in a better way. It has helped to demolish those walls that separate nations and curb human relations and interactions. Globalization has primarily become a fiscal term, but its impact is not limited to the economy of the countries only; the term globalization actually refers to every aspect of life, including cultural, social, psychological, and, of course, political. With the rejection of the colonial relations and designs, globalization made the life of the third world citizens entirely different.

Available information confirms that inequalities in global income and poverty are decreasing and that globalization has added to this turnaround. Illustrations include China, India, Brazil, and other developing nations in Asia and Latin America where the gap among rich and poor is decreasing. Countries that are becoming poorer are those that are not open to world trade. It is interesting to note that the Global Competitiveness Index, 2013 rankings, published by the World Economic Forum did not include a single African or Latin American country among the top 50 countries. The common belief is that companies moving into a developing country often bring with them higher wages compared with those by domestic companies. Low wages in less developed countries often result in lower levels of education and productivity. Rapid growth and reduction of poverty in some countries have benefited from globalization. In particular, advocates of globalization highlight these advantages:
  • Globalization is the rise of market capitalism around the world, which creates jobs, transfers money and investments, and makes products available to consumers as they need them.

  • Universal dissemination of scientific and technological inventions such as the Internet facilitates and accelerates the processes of global linkages.

  • Increasing interdependence among nations promotes collaborative and cooperative relations among countries and governments with benefits to all.

Contrasting Views of Globalization

Critical views find many deficiencies and shortcomings in the globalization processes and their results. For the critics, globalization is blamed for causing disparity within and among nations, impeding social progress, and even causing unemployment. Although consequences of globalization depend on the particular country, the critics underscore negative effects such as spreading communicable diseases and social deterioration. They claim that developing nations are often abdicating their rule and sovereignty to powerful foreign companies, reviving memories of ancient colonization. Critical perspectives point out other flaws of globalization including:
  • Threat of domination by business corporations in some societies because of excessive power invested in them due to globalization. In some developing countries, multinationals have already contributed to labor, environment, and human rights abuses.

  • Global capitalism advanced by leaps in technology, failure of communism, and few spectacular economic successes in East Asia but did not benefit everybody. The benefits of information technology have not been widely shared. Statistics in support of this contention indicate that most of the world’s Internet users live in the industrial countries.

  • Poor countries find global capitalism disruptive to their lives and societies. Yet, they have been unable to enact safeguards and regulations to protect their environments and workers as the industrial countries have done decades ago.

  • Global capitalism and free trade have not only introduced free commerce in ordinary goods but also stimulated free commerce in money. For small countries, this often resulted in destabilizing their economies and even holding them hostages to whims of financial speculators.

  • Current global capitalism perpetuates economic dominance of few industrial regions, owners of the largest global corporations. Dominating the worldwide market, these corporations increase production and provide more access to products only to increase their profits.

At various international conferences, the critics and protesters complained that free trade has to benefit all citizens, not just corporations. Opponents including activists, labor unionists, human rights advocates, and environmentalists protested that globalization has deepened problems. Some critics in urbanized countries have associated loss of jobs with globalization. Multinationals have exported jobs from urbanized countries to developing countries with lower wages. Through trade freedom, governments have encouraged the replacement of domestically produced goods with goods produced abroad. Some trade unions resist globalization, claiming that it leads to lower wages and encourages trade in goods produced in countries which do not allow unions to defend their workers’ rights. In developing countries, critics of globalization point out that in reality they are facing less modernization and more Westernization that is undermining traditional languages and cultures.

Certainly, globalism is not always accurately understood, and its future trends are unpredictable. It is surprising to hear presentations at international conferences in developing countries referring to globalization as the new colonialism by Western countries seeking domination of small and poor countries. Surely, globalization does not affect all countries and peoples the same. Actually, close examination may reveal elements of all the above positive and negative effects, depending where one chooses to look. Regardless, just as capitalism needs a network of governing systems to keep it from devouring societies, globalization requires vigilance in the rule of law. In the United States, many organizations are trusted with validating proper economic conduct and managing a complex market system with appropriate checks to safeguard accountability. Structures entrusted with such responsibilities include the Securities and Exchange Commission, anti-trust laws, labor unions, the Federal Trade Commission, civil society institutions, and others. In comparison, enforcement of global rules is far more complex and much less monitored or scrutinized for proper conduct states.

Global Structures and Actions

Globalization processes are mainly managed through various institutional structures that continually attempt to ensure a measure of equity in action and foster advancements in various aspects of the global processes. Many institutions have been involved in the difficult task of shaping global policies and influencing rules and standards that have effectively resulted in the construction, approval, and promulgation of various international accords. Most important of these functioning institutions are:
  1. 1.

    United Nations and affiliated special organizations and commissions such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Labour Organization (ILO), World Health Organization (WHO), Atomic Energy Commission, and Human Rights Commission. The UN General Assembly initiates and approves global policies as well as legitimizes recommendations by its specialized structures.

  2. 2.

    Regional associations generating important agreements are another main source for setting international standards. They represent collaboration among large blocks of connected nations such as the European Union (EU), North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), League of Arab States, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), African Union (AU), and Organization of American States (OAS). All have concluded international agreements among their members that endorse certain principles of ethics and recommend actions by each country in its respective domain.

  3. 3.

    Special international structures and forums that have reinforced global interdependence and generated significant balancing of views on critical issues, particularly in world economics and finance, climate control, global ethics, and national security. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Economic Forum, and the Group of 20 (G-20) made significant strides in harmonizing international economic relations and produced important agreements on key global issues.

These international organizations and forums signify a worldwide recognition that many of today’s problems and challenges extend beyond the boundaries of one country and, therefore, require collaborative international efforts to manage them. Comparative public administration is fundamentally consistent with the currently unfolding global order. Despite some reservations and criticisms, an international consensus has been evolving in dealing with certain global principles of ethics, human rights, and collective efforts for relief in facing natural disasters, for examples. Two recent particular illustrations underscore how global efforts are able to produce particular agreements on dealing with specific common problems: One is ethics; the second is the environment.
  1. 1.

    Global Ethics. Many studies have repeatedly pointed out that corruption in governance is a universal problem. A specific anti-corruption global convention was finalized and approved by the UN General Assembly in 2003, indicating international cooperation in rejecting corruption in its various forms: bribes, fraud, conflict of interest, misuse of information, and similar acts. In December 2003, the UN General Assembly approved the UN Convention Against Corruption, establishing acceptable standards of ethical conduct for the contemporary states of the world in the form of codified rules. The adoption of the Convention was an opportunity for a global response to the problem. The high level of support was demonstrated when 106 countries had already signed the Convention document within 4 months of its adoption by the General Assembly, and over 159 nations signed it within 2 years. The development of global ethics and the ratification of the UN Anti-corruption Convention, committing nations of the world to specific standards of ethics and to specific administrative measures of enforcement, are among the most profound global achievements (Jreisat 2012). Professional management continually seeks to ensure honesty and integrity of public decisions and to broaden perspective on ethics to include issues of transparency, professional responsibility, democratic values, civil liberties, respect of human rights, and compliance with the rule of law.

  2. 2.

    Climate Protection. Another illustration of international agreements and conventions to set binding standards and determine policies is the recent global agreement on protecting the environment. Delegates from 196 nations approved a historic climate deal after 13 days of negotiating in Paris (December 12, 2015). Negotiators from 196 countries approved a landmark climate accord that seeks to dramatically reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases blamed for a dangerous warming of the planet. Mass media worldwide publicized the agreement, adopted after days of intensive bargaining, putting the international community on a course that could fundamentally change the way energy is produced and consumed. The agreement would gradually reduce reliance on fossil fuels in favor of cleaner forms of energy. “History will remember this day…The Paris agreement on climate change is a monumental success for the planet and its people,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after the pact was signed.


Finally, regardless of different assessments of the global condition, comparative public administration studies have been encouraged and enabled by removing old barriers, developing closer collaboration among academic programs, and what has been commonly referred to as the information technology revolution. Cross-cultural interactions and learning within the current global system are not only possible but easier and more expected than any time in history. The following pages discuss how the comparative public administration approach was stimulated by the growing global linkages and collaborative new international realities.

Comparative Public Administration

Comparative public administration (CPA) is largely a response to new global realities. It is the study of public institutions, processes, and behaviors worldwide. The end objective of CPA is the discovery of patterns and regularities of administrative action and behavior across cultures in order to refine concepts and improve practices. Global influences expanded the domain of intellectual inquiry in public administration beyond traditional, parochial tendencies. The examination of administrative practices of other societies reveals a wider range of administrative actions, beyond the horizon of a national experience. Committed to global knowledge, the CPA devoted increasing attention to learning about unfamiliar, non-Western countries and their aspirations to transform and to modernize their administrative systems.

By focusing on patterns of administrative activities, and characteristics of systems performing them, comparative research extends our understanding of factors conducive to successful or unsuccessful administrative performance. Not surprising, therefore, that the comparative approach is inherently concerned with administrative reform and capacity building, globally. Learning about systems of administration and governance through comparative studies is essentially touting the best practices and promoting most desirable organizational structures and processes. Actually, reform plans for improving the performance of public organizations in developing countries have largely been based on lessons learned through cross-cultural comparative investigations.

The current revolution of information technology, introducing communication tools that were not available a few years ago, should make the processes of cross-cultural learning and adaptation easier and more manageable. Public managers worldwide are utilizing new information technologies, training, formal education, and literature to learn from this flow of information about administrative successes and failures. Professional comparative studies provide synthesis of current comparative administrative knowledge and balance the conceptual and the practical concerns of the field. At the end, good governance is not possible without professional public management having the capacity to implement public policies and serve the common good. Cross-cultural administrative research has served global knowledge by overcoming language barriers, increasing empirical data, and developing necessary abilities to surpass many other barriers to effective public management.

For a long time, traditional public administration has been preoccupied with analysis of political institutions in a handful of Western countries (Heady 2001). The recent emergence of many developing countries, and effects of globalization, elevated comparative public administration to be a major tool of global knowledge and understanding, bridging many arbitrary boundaries drawn by the colonial rule, by Western-centered scholarship, and through military conquests.

The comparative perspective assumes that functional patterns of organization and management are definable and transferrable from one system to another. Thus, the comparative search to discover regularities throughout the human experience, irrespective of place and time, is a crucial aspect. As Fred Riggs (1991a) points out, scholars can no longer afford to base their theories on the truly exceptional American experience and to limit comparative public administration to the study of “foreign” governments. Essentially, the processes of generating reliable administrative knowledge and developing trusted administrative principles are inherently comparative. The public administration establishment slowly came to a similar conclusion. Recently, the leading journal in the field, Public Administration Review, editorialized (July/August 2016: 533) calling for “Building Global Public Administration Knowledge.” Clearly, PAR is recognizing the evolution of the field from a US-centric enterprise to a vibrant global enterprise.

Although comparative administration is not a new endeavor, serious efforts in this approach increased significantly in the post-WWII era. Fred W. Riggs provided intellectual and organizational leadership to the comparative administration group (CAG) during its early days, building on the initiative of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) in the early 1960s. The CAG attracted more members and contributed significant writings that set new directions in comparative studies. Other names that have early been prominently involved in the comparative enterprise, and its corollary development administration, include Dwight Waldo, Milton Esman, Ferrel Heady, Frank Sherwood, Ralph Braibanti, John Montgomery, and William Siffin. More recent scholars closely associated with the CPA include A. Farazmand, D. Klingner, G. Bouckaert, C. Pollitt, J. Jreisat, D. Kettl, and others.

In a report to the annual meeting of ASPA, April 1961, Fred Riggs specified three emerging trends in the comparative study of public administration: (1) a trend from normative toward more empirical approaches, (2) a shift from idiographic (distinct cases) toward nomothetic approaches (studies that seek explicitly to formulate and test propositions), and (3) a shift from predominantly non-ecological to an ecological basis of comparative study (Heady and Stokes 1962: 2). Over the years, articulation of the CPA priorities regularly included the search for theory and for reforming administrative practices in all countries.

Finally, comparative research expanded understanding of the role of public administration in modern society and augmented appreciation of the importance of relationships between administration and other dimensions of governance, particularly in developing societies. Perhaps, one of the most important contributions of comparative administration is the concentration on building administrative capacities and launching administrative reform, globally. Comparative research got administration out of its narrow ethnocentric perspective into a wider horizon of global scope.

Development Administration Stimulated by Globalization

With the end of the colonial order, many new nations realized an urgent need to build their administrative capacities and to accelerate implementation of their developmental plans. This started a surge in studies focusing on relevant issues of development administration. In most countries, national development needs required pursuing the goal of administrative reform as they searched for bilateral and multilateral technical assistance. Reform agendas were largely formulated on the basis of information derived from comparative research and investigations of cross-national administrative experiences.

This early and pioneering recognition of global needs guided the CPA approach to greater interest in developmental initiatives. Comparative analysis articulated particular perspectives on global developmental needs that culminated in the specialization of development administration, concentrating on the particular managerial requirements of countries emerging from colonial domination. Development administration underscored vital aspects of effective administration of developmental policies. Issues emphasized included accountability of public management, evaluating results, commitment to development of human resources, and aggressive attacks on corruption with more dependable means such as instituting effective and consistent measures of audit, evaluation, training, and management improvements.

Studies that focused on development administration were helpful in defining problems and challenges facing the practices of developing societies during the post-World War II era. Such emphasis evolved into a special compilation of concepts and applications that became the sub-field of “Development Administration.” No doubt, knowledge of the administrative problems of developing countries is one of the most important achievements of the comparative movement. Comparative and development administration research and analysis effectively served these objectives: (a) elevated administrative reform to the top of the agenda for action in many countries, (b) recognized the significance of institutions with capacity to act as foundations for developmental policies, and (c) broke out of the traditional parochial mode and gradually developed common shared experiences with global outlook on governance. The early comparative administration concerns attempted to move beyond conventional practices of managing to focus on building administrative capacity and encouraging the creation of instruments that can define and champion improvements of administrative performance. Subsequently, the literature of comparative and development administration were often viewed as entwined as in the Handbook of Comparative and Development Administration (edited by A. Farazmand), denoting a special practical and conceptual association.

Another factor stimulated the unfolding of the comparative approach, and the advancing of the developmental aspect, was the narrow focus of traditional public administration and its preoccupation with administrative practices of Western countries. Development administration, attuned to problems and needs of developing societies, stressed the setting that provides the political, economic, cultural, and historical context within which administration functions. The application of administration varies with the context. Ignoring such contextual linkage brought about many failures of reform projects, just as in body organ transplants, improper adaptation ensured rejection by the recipient system.

The early development administration was a central feature in Fred W. Riggs’ pioneering work. In Administration of Developing Countries, Riggs chartered new directions for future scholarship in development administration:

We still lack a clear understanding of the forces which lead to administrative transformations, to changes from traditional, status-oriented bureaucracies to “modern” patterns of governmental organization in which the ideals of “efficiency” and “effectiveness” can become operating principles. .... Clearly, if we are to progress in our understanding of this subject, to say nothing of our efforts to help governments modernize their administrative systems, we must devote more attention to the conceptual and theoretical basis of our work. (Riggs 1964: 3)

To deal with diversity and complexity in the new environments of developing countries, attempts were made to classify these systems into typologies of systems in order to differentiate problems and to facilitate design of appropriate solutions. Administrative systems were analyzed with particular attention to their political, economic, and cultural contexts. Milton Esman’s classification scheme is one example that focused on the ability of the emerging countries to create, and effectively deploy, a variety of instruments of action to successfully carry out the burdens of socioeconomic development. Esman’s typology consists of five political regime types with significant implications to public administration: (1) conservative oligarchies, (2) authoritarian military reformers, (3) competitive interest-oriented party systems, (4) dominant mass party systems, and (5) Communist totalitarian systems (Esman 1966).

Also, development administration emphasized the processes of institution building as a sure path for developing administrative capacity in the new nations. Building viable, capable, and innovative institutions to lead in development efforts was advocated and promoted in education and training as well as internationally through the efforts of the US Agency for International Development. The institutions that received the endorsement of consultants and financial support by AID include national planning councils or boards, institutes of public administration, development-oriented universities, and research institutes. Foreign consultants followed the trail peddling all sorts of “development-oriented training programs” for public employees in developing countries.

Institution building was an influential framework that appeared to have a great operational promise in the 1960s. It was developed by a consortium of scholars of development from universities of Pittsburgh, Michigan, Indiana, and Syracuse with significant efforts from people like Fred Riggs, Milton Esman, William Siffin, and others. The institution is described and analyzed through three categories of variables (Jreisat 1975):
  • First, a category that attempts to explain organizational behavior through the examination and measurement of five major variables: leadership, doctrine, program, resources, and structure.

  • Second, a category of variables deals with linkages or interdependencies that exist between an institution and other relevant parts of the society. They are enabling linkages, functional linkages, normative linkages, and diffused linkages.

  • Third, the concept of transactions denotes the exchange of goods and services, power, and influence between the institutions and other social organizations that interact with it. The content of these exchanges vary from seeking support to overcoming resistance, exchanging resources to transferring norms and values. As expected, variation takes place in institutional analysis but with high similarity of assumptions and goals, the impact of the institutional perspective has been considerable. One reason is its operational appeal that attracted the practitioner. Another reason, institutional analysis, received the endorsement of many academicians, consultants, and foreign aid technicians.

Comparative administrative research contributed many other attempts to develop theory and improve practice of the field in diverse contexts. One comparative administration perspective focused on administrative functions related to civil service in all its phases and processes. Civil service systems, as Bekke et al. (1996) point out, play critical roles throughout the world, but our basic knowledge of civil service systems is woefully inadequate. The authors determine that much of theory and empirical research on civil service systems dates from the comparative administration movement of the 1960s. Comparative knowledge about civil service systems attracted little joining or follow-up to the early comparativists’ efforts by the rest of the field of public administration.

Integral to the developmental perspectives is the emphasis on transparency of public decisions, performance information, and concern for accountability of public officials and institutions as well as conscious respect of human rights in the work place. Still, lack of conceptual clarity on what is administration and what is development deepened theoretical fragmentation and hindered the cultivation of effective frameworks. In a significant way, diffusion of the subject matter prevented full appreciation of the complexities of development and reduced the scope and value of administrative variables, particularly in the delivery of traditional public services. Scholarly productivity focusing on administrative context (culture, politics, economic development, even history) has not been matched with appropriate knowledge of the inner working of organizations. This is particularly true of organizations operating in developing societies. There has always been insufficient comparative information on organizational and managerial performance of developing countries, their decision-making processes, and their budgetary and civil service reforms. Even harder is to determine who benefitted from public policy outputs and who did not or to ascertain how accountable and equitable administrative actions have been.

At the same time, improvements of relevance and synthesis of comparative studies continue to largely depend on developing generalizations from aggregates of particular facts that have been reliably established without ignoring the concreteness and distinctiveness of the cases being investigated (Jreisat 1997). Part of the problem is that early comparative knowledge was mainly derived from single-case analysis that often served as the empirical base for developing tentative generalizations.

Moreover, contextual analysis brings to the forefront the important relationship between comparative public administration and comparative politics. As indicated above, comparative politics promoted and gave representation to comparative administration in its own early intellectual circles. Subsequently, the organized interest of each group spurred different institutional pursuits that were not always scholarly in nature. Nevertheless, comparative politics concentrates on the political system as if it consists only of political objectives and processes. Comparative administration deals with politics as influence to be reckoned with, but essentially distinct from administration, primarily focused on implementation matters. Administration evolved as an interdisciplinary field with an apparent horizon that extends to financial, technological, sociological, as well as political domains.

The proclivities of traditional management practices, with a hierarchical command and control model, generally suspected of producing rule-driven rigidities and other administrative dysfunctions. These presumed administrative negatives have also been blamed, in part, for causing failures of developmental plans everywhere. In the new global context, performance and accomplishments of objectives are indispensable measures of successful management. A new managerial model and a culture of organizational performance refocused attention on the role of leadership. Thus, reexamination of methods of recruitment and development of skills among administrative and political leaders has become a necessity. More than “entrepreneurial qualities” is involved here. Realizing that today’s leaders operate in a complex and more competitive global environment, emphasis on knowledge, skills, and attitudes has become quite apparent. Also subsumed is a context of democratic norms and employment conditions that subscribe to principles of merit in personnel decisions. Within this context, one finds increasing requirements for managerial competence in areas such as negotiations, mediation, human rights, diversity, equality, and problem-solving techniques.

These challenges indicate that administrative reform is an imperative response to the new societal needs and demands. To accelerate such reform, particularly in developing countries, training and personnel development have been the indispensable prescriptions for closing the gap between current and future – more desirable – conditions. Thus, a variety of training methods have been in use, including education at all levels, training-on-the-job, coaching, mentoring, distance learning, and many other tailor-made training activities. Assessments on the ground in many developing countries, however, indicate that consultant reports and the recommended training have not been sufficient ingredients to bring about the desired transformation.

To fully respond to current global realities, comparative public administration has to overcome some persistent challenging obstacles: One is improving synthesis in its scholarship to overcome theoretical fragmentation. Another is highlighting relevance and utility of research to application. Current global trends are conducive, if not requiring, cross-cultural knowledge and information on all aspects of societies, particularly in public management. To achieve such objectives, research has to emphasize the need for more empirical information, preferably based on comparative analysis of a number of cases. Another track for improvement is through employing appropriate investigation tools such as middle-range concepts that can be verified and ultimately integrated in a meaningful framework. None of these objectives is well served at the present by the preoccupation with abstract global conceptual fiddling.

In sum, globalization processes since the end of WWII stimulated comparative public administration and necessitated the subsequent focus on development management. This comparative and developmental dimension is dramatic, even revolutionary, considering the state of affairs in public administration before. Comparative and development scholarship responded to real needs and transitioned to new territories of inquiry, including the study of international technical assistance, the role of culture, and the centrality of competence and integrity in public management. To serve such expanded function of public management, it grew beyond the narrow traditional disciplinary orientation to become truly interdisciplinary curricula and a genuine profession in practice. No less important among these various shifts of emphasis and trends in research is the greater commitment to public service and concern with equity and satisfaction of citizens. Comparative public administration has faced common issues, unlocked the traditional geographic and research foci, and adapted aptly to recent globalization processes.


Comparative and development administration have transformed the field of administration to a global one. The comparative approach crossed over the disciplinary restrictions and the particular geographic boundaries to be more inclusive and to highlight the globalization drives that changed the attributes of the modern state. A “global” designation seems especially relevant today given the noncumulative, non-collaborative, and geographically circumscribed qualities of the traditional administrative studies. The transformation of public administration to a global field is vital for serving emerging global concerns to ensure security, peace, economic prosperity, and livelihoods in an increasingly interconnected world. Comparative administration research can provide indispensable contributions to developing countries searching for mastering the essentials of public service delivery, exploring the effects of the politics-administration nexus, and ultimately solving many of the problems impeding good governance in these societies.

A global public administration scholarship and research can inform contemporary governance and promote transnational knowledge of effective management in various critical functions. Areas such as emergency and crisis management, criminal justice, public performance management, ethics, health and human service administration, protection of human rights, climate change, and the centrality of science and technology are subjects that can be enhanced and improved by exchange of global experiences. A global public administration offers opportunities for clearer understandings of the strengths and weaknesses of administrative systems, processes, and instruments the world over. A more inclusive and robust scholarship can encourage a wider array of solutions for the administrative challenges that hinder prosperity, security, and service provision in any country. A global public administration is an enterprise from which the world at large stands to benefit. 

Certainly, the impact of globalization on public administration has been considerable. Globalism altered the context of administration and necessitated reexamination of the ability of public management to innovate and to change, to apply information, and to use new technologies. The political pressures in certain countries favoring downsizing government and privatizing many of its traditional functions are inadequate if not the wrong prescription for dealing with common goals. Policies of recruitment of public managers, development of employees’ skills, and retention of competent managerial leadership have acquired different and urgent attention. Pointing out the impact of globalization on public administration, however, is different from assuming that a “new paradigm” is on the way toward a universal application. The emergence of common norms and standards and the global transfer of administrative knowledge remain short of consensus in practice or utilitarian syntheses in concepts.

Recently, increasing global interdependence offered new opportunities for comparative and development public administration to revive its earlier premises and to renew the efforts for change. Today, knowledge regularly crosses cultural boundaries in important areas such as finance, technology, and management. The global economic revolution is in progress and world’s political boundaries are giving in to free movement of people, goods, information, ideas, and even cultural values. Effective management is becoming a universal ambition because the global reality requires the contemporary states to increasingly reorganize and build their administrative capacities. Public institutions of current states are continually required to shoulder new and emerging needs and responsibilities. Comparative and development administration have been and will be increasingly in demand to facilitate this movement toward a global public administration that benefits all societies.


  1. Bekke, H., J. Perry, and T. Toonen, eds. 1996. Civil Service Systems in Comparative Perspective. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Brinkerhoff DW (2008) The state and international development management: shifting tides, changing boundaries, and future directions. Public Adm Rev 68(6):985–1001CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brinkerhoff DW, Coston JM (1999) International development management in a globalized world. Public Adm Rev 59(4):346–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Deutsch KW (1987) Prologue: achievements and challenges in 2000 years of comparative research. In: Dierkes M, Weiler HN, Antal AB (eds) Comparative policy research: learning from experience. St. Martin’s Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  5. Esman MJ (1966) The politics of development administration. In: Montgomery JD, Siffin WJ (eds) Approaches to development: politics, administration, and change. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. Esman MJ (1991) Management dimensions of development. Kumarian Press, West HartfordGoogle Scholar
  7. Farazmand A (1996) Development and comparative public administration: past, present, and future. Public Adm Q 20(3):343–364Google Scholar
  8. Farazmand A (1999) Globalization and public administration. Public Adm Rev 59(6):509–522CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Farazmand A (ed) (2001) Handbook of comparative and development administration, 2nd edn. Marcel Dekker, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. Graham JL (1985) Cross-cultural marketing negotiations: a laboratory experiment. Mark Sci 4(2):130–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Graves D (1972) The impact of culture upon managerial attitudes, beliefs and behavior in England and France. J Manag Stud 10(1):40–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Heady F (2001) Public administration: a comparative perspective, 6th edn. Marcel Dekker, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  13. Heady F, Stokes SL (eds) (1962) Papers in comparative public administration. Institute of Public Administration, University of Michigan, Ann ArborGoogle Scholar
  14. Huddleston MW (1984) Comparative public administration: an annotated bibliography. Garland, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. Jreisat JE (1975) Synthesis and relevance in comparative public administration. Public Adm Rev 35(6):663–671CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jreisat JE (1997) Politics without process: administering development in the Arab world. Lynne Rienner Publishers, BoulderGoogle Scholar
  17. Jreisat JE (2005) Comparative public administration is back in, prudently. Public Adm Rev 65(2):231–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jreisat JE (2012) Globalism and comparative public administration. CRC Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. Kettl D (1997) The global revolution in public management: driving themes, missing links. J Policy Anal Manag 16(3):446–462CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mavima P, Chackerian R (2002) Administrative reform adoption and implementation: the influence of global and local institutional forces. In: Jreisat JE (ed) Governance and developing countries. Brill, Leiden, pp 91–110Google Scholar
  21. Montgomery VW, Cayer CJ (1990) Comparative public administration: defunct, dispersed, or redefined? Public Adm Rev 50(2):238–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Otenyo E, Lind NS (2006) Comparative public administration: growth, method, and ecology. In: Otenyo E, Lind NS (eds) Comparative public administration: the essential readings, vol 15. Elsevier, Oxford, pp 1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Peters BG (1994) Theory and methodology in the study of comparative public administration. In: Baker R (ed) Comparative public management: putting US public policy and implementation in context. Praeger, WestportGoogle Scholar
  24. Pollitt C, Bouckaert G (2011) Public management reform: a comparative analysis, 3rd edn. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  25. Riggs FW (1964) Administration of developing countries. Houghton Mifflin, BostonGoogle Scholar
  26. Riggs FW (1991a) Public administration: a comparativist framework. Public Adm Rev 51(6):473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Riggs FW (1991b) Bureaucratic links between administration and politics. In: Farazmand A (ed) Handbook of comparative and development administration, 2nd ed. New York: Marcel Dekker.Google Scholar
  28. Riggs FW (1989) The political ecology of American Public Administration. Int J Public Adm 12(3).Google Scholar
  29. Riggs FW (1998) Public administration in america: why our uniqueness is exceptional and important. Public Adm Rev 58(1):22–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rowat D (ed) (1990) Public administration in developed democracies. Marcel Dekker, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  31. Thomas V (1999) Globalization: implications for development learning. Public Adm Dev 19(1):5–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Thompson JD et al (1953) Comparative studies in administration. University of Pittsburgh Press, PittsburghGoogle Scholar
  33. Waldo D (1976) Symposium: comparative and development administration: retrospect and prospect. Public Adm Rev 36:615–654Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public Affairs, University of South FloridaTampaUSA