Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What is the Minnowbrook conference at first place ?

A once-in-a-generation event held every twenty years, the Minnowbrook conference brings together the top scholars in public administration and public management to reflect on the state of the field and its future. 

Minnowbrook I (1968), II (1988), and III (2008) are watershed events in the intellectual development of public administration.

Before moving to Minnowbrook Conference III lets have a look at first two

First Minnow Brook Conference - 

1. It was organised in the backdrop of anger and unrest against the Government.

2. It was organised in opposition to Philadelphia Conference.

3. It had participants from department of Political Science. Hence its approach was narrow and limited.

4. It focus was Change, Relevance, Social Equity and Value.

5. It gave rise to the concept of Public Administration.

6. New Public Administration failed in practise.

7. Its theme, tenure, tone and temperament was more radical and anti Government.

8. Its proceeding were combined in a report by Frank Marini in 1971 named "Toward a New Public Administration:The Minnow Brook Perspective".

9. It was held under the chairmanship of Dwight Waldo.

Second Minnow Brook Conference - 

1. It was organised when the economy of USA was upbeat and a sense of euphoria was present among the masses.

2. It was organised for the support and expansion of US Public Administration.

3. Its participants were from field of Public Administration, Political Science, law, management, administration etc. Hence it was more broad-based and liberal.

4. Its focus was LPG - Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation.

5. It gave rise to the concept of New Public Management.

6. New Public Management proved to be successful.

7. It was highly encouraging and supportive.

8. All its proceedings were published in the essays in the Minnow Brook tradition edited by Richard T. Mayor and published by Timmy Bailey - "Public Management in the Inter-Connected World:Essays in the Minnow Brook Tradition." (1990)

9. It was held under the chairmanship of H George Fredrickson. 

Minnowbrook Conference III

  • This conference took place during September, 2008. It was organised when American economy was downgrading and global terrorism had shown its first effect.
  •  It was chaired by Rosemary O’Leary. 

Global Concerns :- global terrorism, economy and ecological imbalances etc.

Participation :- This invited participants from other countries as well hence it was global in approach focussing upon global challenges and problems of Public Administration.

Main Focus : - Its focus was upon structural and functional reforms or second generation reforms.

Concept originated : - It gave rise to the concept of 3 E's - Economy, Efficiency and Effectiveness.

It was conducted in two phases. 

The first phase was a pre-conference phase. In this conference, the young and emerging scholars of public administration were asked to contribute a five page critique of public administration. Almost 56 proposals were accepted and considered. In this conference, a single formal critique of public administration was not being able to be developed rather a dozen of areas of concern in public administration were identified such as

1.      The Academic-Practitioner Relationship
2.      Democratic Performance Management
3.      Performance measurement
4.      Globalization and International Perspective
5.      Administrative ethics and values
6.      Information technology and management
7.      Methodology and inter-disciplinary perspective

The second phase was conducted in a round table format. It was a get-together of senior scholars. The scholars were divided into various groups based on their areas of concern. Simultaneously, a number of issues relating to public administration were discussed. Finally, three major areas of emphasis were identified. 

They are

1.     It emphasized on Comparative Studies. In this conference, it was acknowledged that because of impact of LPG and IT, no system could be meaningfully studied in isolation. The systems across the world are interconnected.

2. It emphasized on Action Research and Methodological Pluralism. In this conference, there was an agreement that for the study of Public Administration to be meaningful, it is required that the teachings in Public Administration should include the teachings on methodologies and tools and techniques to undertake research. It was realized that a discipline will become more and more enriched when there will be more R&D. If the students are more equipped with the tools and techniques, they can independently carry out their own research. This will provide a robust foundation for the study of the discipline. It also emphasized that the findings of the research should be subjected to Peer Review. It also recognized the importance of Multiple Approach or Multiple viewpoints towards the study of public administration.

3.  It came out with a redefinition of public administration. According to this conference, public administration is considered as a socially embedded process of relationship, dialogue and action to promote human flourishing for all 

Comparing it with Minnowbrook I & II

    • Minnowbrook conference in 1968 and 1988 discussed the need for increasing RIGOUR and RELEVANCE in Pub Ad while preserving its DIVERSITY and UNIQUE IDENTITY.

    •  The first two conferences can well be characterised as a search for identity and legitimacy as a separate field of study.

    • By the THIRD MINNOWBROOK CONFERENCE .....the crisis of IDENTITY was no LONGER a central FOCUS . The discipline already had itzz own journals and trained PROFESSIONALs nd SCHOLARs. 

    • Rather much discussion focussed on DIVERSITY and infact many new scholars participating for the first time pressed for more diversity in PERSPECTIVE and SUBJECT MATTER !! .

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