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The Nature of Governing is one of the core subjects in the Melbourne Master of Public Administration. The Melbourne MPA is an interdisciplinary, globally-focused degree program for managers that work within or with government. This subject sets out the foundations of governing for public outcomes and examines how government and governing institutions have evolved over time and in various settings to meet political and policy challenges, and the implications of this for public managers.
This subject provides students with the theoretical concepts and analytical tools to understand the nature and practice of governing and government in a globalizing world. Its focus is on the relationship between political institutions, actors, ideas and public administration. It draws mainly from the disciplines of political science and international relations, and from related disciplines such as sociology and political economy. Its core objective is to help participants to understand how the political environment (comprised of institutions, ideas and actors) and the practice of politics, constrains and facilitates the work of public managers in delivering public policy. This political environment is simultaneously local, national, international and global and includes elections and appointment procedures, interconnected policymaking institutions, multiple accountability mechanisms, delegation and independent agencies, interest groups, civil society and public opinion. The subject explores the great diversity of these political processes, actors and institutions and assesses how the practice of politics shapes the work of public managers across a range of practical and topical policy domains. The international dimension of this political environment has become ever more important and particular attention will be paid to the influence of international negotiations and agreements, international organizations, global standard setting bodies, international policy learning and diffusion, transnational private sector and civil society actors on the work that public managers do.
Intended learning outcomes
Students who successfully complete this subject should:
- Understand how the political environment constrains and facilitates the work of public managers in delivering public policy and governing;
- Acquire knowledge of the theoretical concepts and analytical tools needed to analyse this evolving political environment;
- Understand the relationship between political institutions, actors, ideas and public policymaking and administration;
- Appreciate the expanding impact of the international dimensions of policy, including how this environment shapes and enables the work of public managers within countries; and
- Understand the potential and pitfalls of international policy diffusion and learning.
On successful completion of this subject students should have:
- A critical understanding of the operation of governments in Australia, the Asia-Pacific region and across the world, and of the way in which the political environment affects the work of public managers;
- A cross-cultural and interdisciplinary understanding of the complexity of international relations, and an ability to collaborate effectively with other domestic and international actors and institutions;
- A high-level ability to combine the theory and practice of governing in order to address the managerial challenges that result from the operation of government;
- A high-level ability to connect professional skills in public administration with discipline based expertise in political science, international relations and cognate disciplines;
- Well-developed interpersonal and communication skills necessary to a range of professional activities including report writing, workplace discussions and lobbying strategies; and
- Flexible communication skills with a highly attuned sensitivity to a diverse audience, and to the issues specific to cross-cultural communication.
Last updated: 3 November 2022