By the Book: Public Administration Meets Legal Theory

Before there was public management, there was political theory: what should government do? What actions by the state are to be considered legitimate? What is justice? What is public virtue? As Thomas Barth reminded us in this journal last October , those of us who teach public management too frequently neglect these seminal questions for the necessary but inevitably more mundane skills of the profession?budgeting, planning, human resources management, policy analysis. But these practical subjects did not emerge from a void; they are inextricably bound up with our constitutional system, and that system in turn is the outgrowth of great philosophical debates about the proper ordering of human communities. It can be extremely rewarding for students to visit those debates. (One would love to say ?revisit? but that would be inaccurate; virtually none of them have any familiarity with this intellectual history.)
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