This article provides a brief intellectual history of my journey from traditional public administration through modernist-empiricism to an interpretive approach and its associated research themes; a story of how I got to where I am. I do so to provide the historical context for a statement of where I stand now on key themes in my research; a story of where I go from here. I have a vaulting ambition; to replace the theory and methods of mainstream policy science with an interpretive approach and narrative explanations, so redefining public policy analysis. The published version is available as ‘Thinking on: I was so much older then.’ Public Administration 89 (1) 2011: 196-212.
What intellectual influences, if any, have British public administration scholars had on their American counterparts in the post-war period? The paper reviews briefly the major areas of theory and research in the study of public administration in Britain. It identifies the important work by British contributors in modernist-empiricism, the new public management, regulation, policy networks and governance, and interpretive theory. It argues that, although there is a discernible American influence on British public administration, there is little British influence on American public administration; it is a one-way street. Instead, there is a growing community of public administration scholars in Europe with whom there is a two-way street. Moreover, recent developments in Europe mean that the American and European public administration communities are growing further apart. The strength of modernist-empiricism in American, and the turn to an epistemology of ‘blurred genres’ in Europe, means there are two self-referential communities with the attendant danger that any intellectual engagement is a dead-end street.
The published version is available as: ‘One-way, two-way or dead end street: the British influence on American public administration’, Public Administration Review, 71 (4) July/August 2011: 559-71
This chapter tells the story of the journal up to my appointment as editor. I then describe the ways in which the journal changed over the past 25 years. I analyse the ways in which the subject matter of the journal has changed, updating the analysis in Rhodes et al 1995 and Dargie and Rhodes 1996. However, this analysis does not tell us anything about broader changes affecting the journal. So I discuss the effects of professionalization, corporatization, marketization, internationalization, and digitization. I then describe the article I have selected for this collection and discuss the criteria used to choose them. Finally, I speculate on the future of the discipline and the journal.
The published version is available as ‘Yesterday when I was young’. In R. A. W. Rhodes, Ed., Public Administration: 25 years of analysis and debate, 1986-2011. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011: 1-16. See also: ‘R. A. W. Rhodes: A Select Bibliography’, Public Administration 89 (1) 2011: 213-19.