Imagining an Otherwise Global Public Administration

Published date01 February 2023
Date01 February 2023
Subject MatterPerspectives
Administration & Society
2023, Vol. 55(2) 326 –345
© The Author(s) 2022
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/00953997221131769
Imagining an Otherwise
Global Public
Muhammad Azfar Nisar1
and Ayesha Masood1
Global public administration remains an incomplete project with contested
notions of its aims and objectives. Given its disputed nature we focus on
developing a negative definition of global public administration. We argue
that a global public administration cannot be based on a singular ontology,
western epistemology and Eurocentric research agenda. Moreover, a truly
global public administration must not be committed to myopic limitations
concerning its scope, historicity, objectives and research methods. To help
foster discussion toward reimagining a different public administration, based
on the postcolonial work of Khatibi, we argue for an otherwise thinking
about global public administration. This would require looking with alterity
for inspiration and insight, looking back to learn from history, looking
differently to formulate new questions through new lenses, looking inwards
at disciplinary exclusions, and looking dialectically to navigate the macro-
micro research divide.
global public administration, otherwise thinking, international public
1Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan
Corresponding Author:
Muhammad Azfar Nisar, Suleman Dawood School of Business, Lahore University of
Management Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan.
1131769AAS0010.1177/00953997221131769Administration & SocietyNisar and Masood
Nisar and Masood 327
Imagining an Otherwise Global Public
The word global in the term global public administration (PA) makes a lot of
people skeptical and uneasy because it brings to mind the entire discourse
associated with globalization and the normative, coercive and mimetic pres-
sures associated with it (Farazmand, 1999, 2006). It is no accident that the
term global public administration (PA) started becoming popular around the
same time as globalization became the dominant way to organize discourses
of internationalization and development. Over the years multiple thoughtful,
yet contested, visions and frameworks for global public administration have
been offered, but with limited meaningful impact on the practice and research
of public administration (Gulrajani & Moloney, 2012; Hou et al., 2011; Welch
& Wong, 1998).
More importantly, despite these thoughtful critiques, the overall direction
and tenor of international and global public administration remains tainted
with familiar limitations of neocolonial globalization and development
related discourses. For example, scholars have noted that globalization has
resulted in the creation of new colonial administrators (De Maria, 2005); a
worldwide managerial network consisting of executives of international
financial institutions, international development organizations, and the
bureaucratic leadership in postcolonial states, working to protect the geopo-
litical and corporate interests of western developed countries (Farazmand,
2002, 2009, 2012; Kalu, 2004; Subramaniam, 2003). The inevitable result of
this echo chamber is the hegemonic spread of certain policy regimes like new
public management (Samaratunge et al., 2008) and public sector reforms
(McCourt & Foon, 2007) in postcolonial states.
Scholars further note intersection of international aid and development
administration with this policy transfer in developing countries. They analyze
different ways in which the institutional arrangements favored by institutions
like the IMF and the World Bank dominate the way development and gover-
nance is conceptualized, as aid is often tied to mandatory adoption of certain
policies in developing countries (Blunt et al., 2011; Larmour, 2002; McCourt
& Gulrajani, 2010; Murphy, 2010). This problematic discourse ignores the
present concerns of such countries assuming that their answers are already
available in the past of western developed countries. On the disciplinary side,
global public administration discourse remains US/Eurocentric with most of
its research agenda and gatekeepers coming from the global north (Candler
et al., 2010).
It seems clear that global public administration, both in its theoretical and
practical dimensions remains an unfinished problematic project. Given the

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