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Why is Comparative Study Important?. Some basics. 1. General attempt to “broaden the perspectives” of those who are involved in making public decisions and change. This is different from “international” or “global” effects that might impact public management. 2.

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  • General attempt to “broaden the perspectives” of those who are involved in making public decisions and change. This is different from “international” or “global” effects that might impact public management.
  • There is now a Regional dimension to much of what is happening, and increasingly we are comparing, for instance, Europe and the United States, which is even more confusing because one is a state, and one is not.
  • “Success” can be measured by how well we did compared to what we said we would achieve. Internal audit.
  • Or by comparing the outcomes of what we did with another developed democracy facing the same policy issues.
  • To permit those involved in policy to understand better, through comparison, the underlying defining cultural/historic determinants contributing to shaping policy and the delivery of policy.
  • Greater public awareness (the media effect) of what is happening in the rest of the world means that people are constantly making comparisons to politicians.
  • Some writers have made comparisons between poor parts of rich countries, and poor countries. I think this brings in too many non-compatible variables for this to be useful—though they may share some similar problems
useful quote 1a
Useful Quote 1a
  • “That the emerging world order embraces the concepts of spaceship Earth and the Global Village reflects the dawning reality that all creatures share a common fate… Yet parochialism still dominates public administration. The vast majority of public officials will never experience anything other than the national administrative systems in which they work and then, probably, only a handful of different organizational cultures within that narrow confine.
useful quote 1b
Useful Quote 1b
  • The same parochialism afflicts too much of the study of science of public administration. Much of what purports to be universalistic is actually highly culture-bound and idiosyncratic. Probably, Americans are the worst offenders. Too many, ignorant of the world outside the USA, merely generalize about American public administration, not recognizing that American ideas and practices are idiosyncratic and the exception, rather than the rule.”
  • Gerald Caiden.
the usefulness
The “Usefulness”
  • Primarily, it gives us a “context” in which to see our own system—to bring out the underlying principles, and not just methods and techniques. It is a mirror in which to see ourselves.
the need for rigor
The Need for Rigor
  • Providing the comparative parameters are comparable, it gives us an insight into different ways of solving the same, or similar, problems. But, the comparative method must involve some way of making the cultural component explicit. Otherwise, we are dealing with anecdotal information. So, there has to be a comparative methodology.
So, this should be a two-way street, but that has not been the experience.
  • If the focus is on the Policy Process, rather than describing the Policy Process, then it can be productive.
borrowing and copying
Borrowing and Copying
  • Globalization involves a great deal of learning and borrowing from others—not always wisely. For instance, what about the so-called transitional economies, and the so-called developing countries?
  • A search for universal truths, and a universal method and some useful principles
  • Is there some transcultural generic comparative aspect to management.
but most of all
But most of all
  • The comparative method enables us to see ourselves as it were, from the outside.
  • When you see how a country does something, it raises 2 questions: “Why don’t we do that? Why do we do what we do?”