Inculcating public leadership for citizen value : reflecting on public administration curricula

Mubangizi, B. C. ; Theron, F. (2011-04)

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Although broadly advocated and entrenched in South African law, the practice of public administration often tends to pay lip service to the principles of public participation and citizen empowerment. It would seem that public managers, who plan and implement service delivery processes do not fully comprehend the local social and meaning-giving contexts in which the public exists. A matter that could be attributed to the training they receive. The recent Winelands (2010) Conference on Public Leadership for Added Citizen Value introduced the principles of citizen value and public leadership into the discourse of public administration theory and practice in South Africa. This article examines the suitability of existing curricula at selected South African universities to inculcate a people, citizen centred approach in Public Administration teaching. It does so by exploring the curricula of the Bachelor of Administration of selected universities and by drawing on discussions held with selected academics. In addition, the authors draw on their experience in teaching Public Administration as well as research supervision in the discipline. The article concludes that while academic conferences are vibrant in their discussion of values and notions of public leadership, public governance, public value and public participation, this does not sufficiently reflect in the curriculum of Public Administration – at least not at the undergraduate level.

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