Public Policy and Management: Perspectives and Issues

Key information

Year of study
10 weeks
Module code
Centre for Financial and Management Studies

Module overview

In this module you look at the state and how it is managed. This is a huge agenda and brings in ideas from political science, from history, sociology, economics, anthropology and management science. The purposes are these:

  • to establish what is meant by some key concepts such as the State, Government and Policy, which are often taken for granted but about which we need to be clear – and to understand different interpretations
  • to survey the principles and practice of public management using a historical and comparative perspective
  • to introduce a range of ideas that have emerged about how to manage the public sector to demonstrate the importance of context in understanding management and changing management practices.
  • to raise some issues about the nature of the policy process in different contexts
  • to set out some of the main debates in the field in order to help you to make your own judgements.

Learning outcomes

When you have completed your study of this module, you will be able to:

  • define the State and what it means in the second decade of the twenty-first century
  • discuss the variety of approaches to public policy and management in different parts of the world and different periods
  • analyse the elements of the social, economic, political and cultural contexts in which governments operate and the influence of these elements on approaches to management and policy
  • explain how ideal types of government arrangements have influenced government policy
  • advise on some of the major choices that governments have to make when making management arrangements
  • evaluate the applicability of ideas about policy and management developed in one jurisdiction to another
  • assess claims that the role and function of the state is everywhere in decline.

Tuition and assessment

Students are individually assigned an academic tutor for the duration of the module, with whom you can discuss academic queries at regular intervals during the study session.

You are required to complete two Assignments for this module, which will be marked by your tutor. Assignments are each worth 15% of your total mark. You will be expected to submit your first assignment by the Tuesday of Week 6, and the second assignment at the end of the module, on the Tuesday after Week 10. Assignments are submitted and feedback given online. In addition, queries and problems can be answered through the Virtual Learning Environment.

You will also sit a three-hour examination on a specified date in September/October, worth 70% of your total mark. An up-to-date timetable of examinations is published on the website in July each year.

Study resources

  • Study guide: The module study guide is carefully structured to provide the main teaching, defining and exploring the main concepts and issues, locating these within current debate and introducing and linking the assigned readings.
  • Core reading: The pre-module reading for the whole of Public Policy and Management programmes is:
    • Rod Hague, Martin Harrop & John McCormick (2016) Comparative Government and Politics: An Introduction. 10th Edition. London, Palgrave.
  • Additional readings: Because no single textbook could be found that covered all the issues raised in this module, students will be provided with access to a number of supplementary readings. These draw upon selected articles and extracts from books developing and exploring the nature of the state and governance, state-society relations, what states should (and should not) do, why, and how. There are case studies of policy making, evaluation, governance changes and structural and management reforms in a variety of contexts.
  • Virtual learning environment: You will have access to the VLE, a web-accessed study centre. Via the VLE, you can communicate with your assigned academic tutor, administrators and other students on the module using discussion forums. The VLE also provides access to the module Study Guide and assignments, as well as a selection of electronic journals available on the University of London Online Library.

Study calendar 2022/23

Module S1
Public Policy and Management: Perspectives and Issues (M400) Running Not running Running Not running

Study calendars are subject to change.

Module overview

Unit 1 The State, Public Policy and Management

  • 1.1 Introduction
  • 1.2 Public Policy, Government and the State
  • 1.3 Understanding the Variability of States
  • 1.4 What is Public Management?
  • 1.5 Finally: What Then is Public Policy?

Unit 2 The State in Action

  • 2.1 Introduction
  • 2.2 The Market Failure Explanation
  • 2.3 Size and Functions
  • 2.4 Economic Development and the State
  • 2.5 States and Welfare
  • 2.6 The State, Politics and Institutions
  • 2.7 Implications for Public Policy and Management

Unit 3 Ideal Types

  • 3.1 Introduction
  • 3.2 The Classical Chinese Civil Service
  • 3.3 Max Weber and Bureaucracy
  • 3.4 ‘Progressive’ Public Administration: Taking the Politics out of Management
  • 3.5 The ‘New Deal’
  • 3.6 Post-Bureaucracy: Reinventing Government
  • 3.7 ‘New Public Management’
  • 3.8 After ‘New Public Management’

Unit 4 Policy Analysis and Evaluation

  • 4.1 Introduction
  • 4.2 The Policy Process: From the Rational Ideal to Chaotic Reality
  • 4.3 Policies, Politics and Institutions
  • 4.4 Policy in Practice: Case Study on China’s Economic Reform
  • 4.5 Policy Evaluation
  • 4.6 Unit Review

Unit 5 Policy and Management Dilemmas I

  • 5.1 Introduction
  • 5.2 Choosing how to Deliver Public Services
  • 5.3 The Principal–Agent Problem
  • 5.4 Motivations and Incentives
  • 5.5 Summary and Review

Unit 6 Policy and Management Dilemmas II

  • 6.1 Introduction
  • 6.2 How Holds the Reins of Power? Centralisation and Decentralisation
  • 6.3 How to Do Things Better: The Quest for Innovation
  • 6.4 Conclusion

Unit 7 Policy Transfer and Diversity of Ideas

  • 7.1 A Theory of Policy Transfer: Institutional Form
  • 7.2 Case Study 1: Policy Responses to Financial Crisis
  • 7.3 Case study 2: The USA Occupations of Japan and Iraq
  • 7.4 Case Study 3: ‘Co-production’ and the Question of Meaning
  • 7.5 Conclusion

Unit 8 The Future of the State?

  • 8.1 The End of the State?
  • 8.2 Choices
  • 8.3 Review Questions and Reflection
  • 8.4 The Field of Public Policy and Management

Module samples


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules