T02P03 - Comparative Public Administration: Eastern vs Western Perspectives

Topic : Comparative Public Policy

Panel Chair : Zeger Van der Wal - zvdwal@gmail.com

Panel Second Chair : Caspar VAN DEN BERG - c.f.van.den.berg@fgga.leidenuniv.nl

Objectives and Scientific Relevance of the panel

Call for papers

Session 1


Zeger Van der Wal - zvdwal@gmail.com - LKYSPP, NUS

Caspar VAN DEN BERG - c.f.van.den.berg@fgga.leidenuniv.nl - Leiden University - Netherlands

The decline of appraisal (including loyal contradiction) as a civil service function and the rise of the “can do” civil servant : a comparative analysis on causes and future developments.

Frits van der Meer - f.m.van.der.meer@fgga.leidenuniv.nl - Leiden University, institute Publc Administration - Netherlands

Over the last decades a rather strange contradiction has become manifest in the changing position of civil services and civil servants within public governance in many Western industrialized states. On the one hand authors have argued a rise of an enabling frame work state (Raadschelders et all, Van der Meer, Page & Wright) in a multilevel governance setting. Due to this development the role and position of civil servants within public governance and more specifically in an intermediary capacity between political quarters in government and society has increased in importance. This would have put emphasis on a need for a heightened level of civil service (system) professionalism and associated with the latter civil servant autonomy.  On the other hand the rise of this enabling state has coincided and has been reinforced by a mounting output orientation given a NPM context and political administrative risk avoidance for reasons that will be explained in our paper. These would have put a strain on and impose limitations on a more independent civil service advisory and (general) administrative role: leading to the perception of decline of appraisal (including loyal contradiction) as a civil service function and the rise of the “can do” civil servant: a comparative analysis on causes and future developments. This will be the topic of our paper.




First we will start with a conceptual analysis of what is understood by the term appraisal in the context of this paper. We will draw attention here to issues of voice, loyalty and contradiction and the possible positions on a combined scale that will be introduced in the paper running from confrontational to “can do”. Loyal contradiction might be viewed as an awkward contradiction in terms. Besides examining the role of and limits of contradiction within the civil service, we will (briefly given time main focus) also enter a discussion regarding the latter to the issue of being loyal to and contradicting whom?  Forums involve the relevant political office holders, political institutions, the bureaucratic work environment (superiors and colleagues) and last but not least society.
Having presented the conceptual framework we will go into question of how and to what extent is appraisal conceived in the terms mentioned above appreciated as a civil service and organizational requirement/ necessity. Is it appreciated as a personal civil servant value and thus as a standard attribute? Also include in our research will be the degree of variation according to political –administrative interaction and according to hierarchical and functional levels.
In connection with the current situation we will look into the historical dimension of this subject matter. To what extent has there been a change in the appreciation of appraisal both in an empirical and normative perspective in the last decades?
If the decline of appraisal as a civil service function and the rise of the “can do” civil servant has materialized in the last decades we will look into possible explanations for this perceived decline. We start our analysis using the case of the Netherlands but we will extend it to other countries.

Asian Administrative Traditions

Naomi Aoki - sppnma@nus.edu.sg - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore - Singapore

The scholarship on comparative public administration addresses how nation-states differ with respect to their administrative traditions, which consist of ideas and structures’ “that compose more or less enduring pattern in the style and substance of public administration in a particular country or group of countries” (Painter and Peters 2010: 6). These traditions are predominantly western and often classified as Anglo-Saxon, Germanic Continental European, French Continental European, and Scandinavian, differing in respect to government structures, the role of civil society, and the relationship between civil servants and politicians, and state and society, among other considerations. The goal of this study is to uncover administrative traditions in East, South, and Southeast Asian states whose regimes are substantially different from the ones in the west. This study focuses on factors influencing dimensions which arguably determine what Knill (1999) called “administrative reform capacity,” namely, (i) the strength of executive leadership, (ii) the degree of entrenchment of administrative arrangements, and (iii) the political influence of bureaucracies.



The use and usefulness of the ‘traditions approach’ for the study of politicization

Caspar VAN DEN BERG - c.f.van.den.berg@fgga.leidenuniv.nl - Leiden University - Netherlands

This paper tackles the following puzzle: In Comparative PA (small and large-N), is every country a case strictly on its own or can we view groups of countries as meaningful clusters? This question is important for justification purposes (case selection, transferability / generalizability) and for explanatory purposes (phenomena such as civil service politicization). What clusters are theoretically and empirically justified and helpful for explanation?


Many authors have taken on the traditions approach (Loughlin 1994; Wunder 1995; Loughlin and Peters 1997; Ziller 2001; Painter and Peters 2010), which argues that PA traditions are composed of ideas an structure, can be defined as “a more or less enduring pattern in the style and substance of PA in a particular country or group of countries” and that “some traditions are friendlier towards specific reforms than others”. Examples of often cited PA traditions are the Anglo-Saxon / Westminster-Whitehall tradition, the Germanic / German Rechtsstaat tradition, the French / Napoleonic tradition, the Scandinavian tradition and the Confucian tradition. Yet, this approach has also often been criticized.


In this paper, two questions are addressed. Firstly, to what extent do the theoretically suggested patterns within and across PA traditions stay afloat when tested empirically? And secondly, to what extend can a country’s degree of CS politicization be explained by the PA tradition it belongs to?  The former connects back to the justification use of traditions, the later connects back to the explanatory use of traditions in PA scholarship.


The paper identifies indicators for each of the variables Painter and Peters (2010) associate with a PA tradition, and links them to specific variables in the Quality of Government dataset. It provides insights into the ranking and variance across traditions as to the question of civil service politicization, as well as the type of politicization that can be found in the various traditions. Lastly, the paper suggests alternatives to the traditions approach for justifying and explaining PA process across groups of countries.

Patronage System in the Pacific: Role of Big Man in PNG

Lhawang Ugyel - lhawang.ugyel@anu.edu.au - Australian National University - Australia

The patronage system has been accorded a historical significance/place in the field of public administration. It is perceived as an archaic system that preceded modern forms of public administration. Although it rightly deserves its place in history as an obsolete system, strong traces of the patronage system continue to pervade in public administration systems, particularly in developing countries. This article argues how the patronage system continues to play a prominent role in determining the characteristics of the public administration system in developing countries. It explains that the patronage system stems from the underlying social and cultural heritage of a country. It does this by examining the indigenous culture of “big man” of PNG, and the manner it continues to shape PNG’s public administration. Although PNG’s public administration system has initiated public sector reforms since it gained independence in 1975, aspects of the culture of “big man” plays into the system. Thus resulting in a hybrid public administration system that exhibits traits of the patronage system that overlays with other models of public administration. Understanding such forms of hybridity in public administration, particularly in developing countries with aspects of the patronage system, is important as it reveals the dynamics of public sector reform.

Session 2


Caspar VAN DEN BERG - c.f.van.den.berg@fgga.leidenuniv.nl - Leiden University - Netherlands

Zeger Van der Wal - zvdwal@gmail.com - LKYSPP, NUS

People do not buy it? An investigation on corruption perception in China

Lijing Yang - lijingyanguva@hotmail.com - Sun Yat-sen University - China

According to the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) that has been published by Transparency International, the corruption was measured quite serious in China. What is the story if we do CPI measurement within China? Will it be different? With persistent effort that Chinese government have make on anti-corruption, how Chinese people perceive the effects? To answer these questions, we did the survey, and this paper shows the results on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2016 in China, which presents intriguing data by ranking provinces by perceived levels of corruption, public satisfaction, faith on anti-corruption, etc.. Furthermore, to investigate deeper to find out if the people perceive differently with the government, we also collected data by questionnaires distributing in a municipal district to investigate how civil servants, CCP inspection and supervision sector employees, and the citizen view the anticorruption work. The results show that the citizens view government not as clean as the government employees think. The people evaluated less positive than the other groups who working in the government, the citizens are less optimistic about the future anti-corruption attempts as well. The government is busy on making more regulations and punishments, whereas the people wants more participation and transparency. The inconsistent demands cause the public dissatisfaction while government claim big progress.

In an Eastern-Western comparative perspective, this paper raises rethinking the concept of corruption or incorruptibility in specific context: what does it mean, to whom, for what purpose?

The Grass is Greener, but Why? Evidence of Employees’ Perceived Sector Mismatch from the US, New Zealand, and Taiwan

Chung-An Chen - cchongan@gmail.com - Nanyang Technological University - Singapore

To answer the question “Who wants to work for the government?” scholars have relied on a few approaches including sector preference, sector-based comparison of work motives, and sector switching patterns of job mobility.  The present study offers a related but distinct approach: perceived sector mismatch.  The attractiveness of public sector jobs differs greatly across countries, thus in order to present a more comprehensive study, we examine data from the U.S., New Zealand, and Taiwan, where attitudes towards public sector jobs differ significantly as a result of different public service laws and traditions.  Across all three samples, we find that among private sector employees, the preference for a public service job is related to socio-economic disadvantage.  Among public sector workers, the reasons for perceived sector mismatch differ greatly in the three countries.  These findings are followed by theoretical and practical implications. 


East-West Dualism in Administrative Ethics in Southeast Asia: Major Patterns and Consequences

Shamsul Haque - polhaque@nus.edu.sg - Department of Political Science, National University of Singapore - Singapore

In recent years, there is a growing interest in studying administrative ethics due to the emergence of market-driven neoliberal reforms, which led to massive infiltration of business norms into the public sector, especially under the ethos of New Public Management (NPM). However, ethical challenges to public administration in the developing world (including Southeast Asia focused in this paper) are unique compared to Western developed nations. First, in the postcolonial Asian countries, the early framework of professional administrative ethics (e.g. hierarchy, impersonality, meritocracy, specialization, and fairness) was imposed during the colonial rule and reinforced further during the postcolonial period. This colonial imposition and postcolonial imitation of Western administrative norms created a mismatch or dualism between such exogenous administrative ethics and indigenous values embedded in local cultures, religions and communities. This ethical dualism was normalized to a certain extent by adjusting and instilling professional ethics among public servants in certain cases (e.g. Singapore and Malaysia) where the public service came to play a leading developmental role in society. But after the early 1980s, there emerged another form of dualism in administrative ethics in Asian countries created by the recent adoption of the abovementioned NPM-type neoliberal reforms prescribing market values or private sector norms in public management. These major forms of dualism in administrative ethics in the region – including the legacy of exogenous-indigenous gap and the new public-private mismatch – may often create an atmosphere of normlessness in public administration and lead to the disconnect between citizens and administration. This paper begins with a brief review of existing studies and the trend of ethical reorientation in the current age. The major part of the paper, however, will focus on the patterns and consequences of dualism in administrative ethics in Southeast Asia caused by the adoption or imitation of borrowed ethical standards that are hardly compatible with indigenous (socio-cultural) normative contexts, especially in the relatively less Westernized societies in the region.

The Fourth Dimension? – A Cultural Approach to the Study of Public Administration

Zhibin Zhang - zhibin.zhang@flinders.edu.au - Flinders University - Australia

Despite the new public management discourse arguing the convergence of public management globally, enormous varieties in the organization of government and public services can be easily identified across nations. Hood (2000) argued that “most of the basic ideas about how to manage in government have a history”. “Variation in ideas about how to organize in government is not likely to disappear, and hence there are sharp limits to the extent to which public management worldwide can be expected to converge on a single stable approach”. In other words, what underlying the varieties of public administration is culture and tradition. Therefore, the cultural approach is an effective or perhaps the only viable perspective to examine comparative public administration. “The understanding of cultural and organizational variety, within a historical perspective, merits a central place in the study of public management. Without such a perspective, there is no way to grasp the range of differences about what “good management means, what is the available range of viable models of organization, and what are the typical ways in which each model tends to collapse or self-destruct.”


With the telescope lens of “grid/group” theory of cultures by Mary Douglas (2004), Hood (2000) identified four generic types of “public management organizations”. Peters (2002) also touched “grid/group” theory in advocating a cultural analysis of comparative public administration. Constructing a preliminary cultural framework, Zhang (2015) examined the impact of deep-seated traditions in Chinese public administration on its modernization of public human resource management. Bevir and Rhodes (2010) proposed an interpretative paradigm to theorize the state as “meaning in action” or “cultural practice” with ethnographic and historical methods.


This bludgeoning literature represents new efforts in redesigning the public administration research especially comparative public administration. Can culture, on top of management, politics, and law (Rosenbloom & Goldman, 1993), be the fourth perspective to study public administration? Can cultural approach help build up a generic theory to explain the differences of public administration, in the East and the West in particular? Can cultural theory explain the roots of failure in public management? Bardach (1999) pointed out that these latest research efforts in public administration with a cultural perspective had been unsatisfactory as a convincing demonstration of the worth of cultural theory. Then toward what directions that we can improve this cultural approach in public administration study?


This research aims at addressing these research questions through a comprehensive literature review on the cultural approach toward public administration research. It attempts to develop a preliminary theory of culture to compare public administration in different cultural traditions. It also discusses the possible methodology corresponding to this cultural approach and the future research agenda.


Deterring Prosocial People from Entering the Public Sector? Adverse Selection in the East Asian Public Service Exam

Chung-An Chen - cchongan@gmail.com - Nanyang Technological University - Singapore

Zhou-Peng Liao - zpliao1@gmail.com - National Open University - Taiwan

Don-yun Chen - donc@nccu.edu.tw - National Chengchi University - Taiwan

Empirical evidence based in the Western society shows that government jobs can attract people high in public service motivation (PSM) and prosocial proclivity, also referred to as ‘government calling’.  This finding may not be readily applicable to East Asian countries, where extremely demanding and competitive public service exams can result in adverse selection, deterring highly altruistic individuals from passing the exam.  Results based on data collected in Taiwan partially support this proposition: compared to those fail the public service exam, those who pass the exam spend longer time in exam preparation (including quitting a full-time job and studying in tuition schools) but shorter time in volunteering.  In addition, their affective PSM is weaker, although non-affective PSM is stronger.  In conclusion, we discuss possible remedies for this adverse selection effect. 


Session 3


Zeger Van der Wal - zvdwal@gmail.com - LKYSPP, NUS

Caspar VAN DEN BERG - c.f.van.den.berg@fgga.leidenuniv.nl - Leiden University - Netherlands

Governing without Indicators? Asian Options

Wolfgang Drechsler - wolfgang.drechsler@ttu.ee - Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance - Estonia

Given the inevitability of using indicators for governing (in) the modern state, but considering also their considerable drawbacks, this paper looks at alternative options within contemporary government systems. It finds these potentially in three Asian places with a monarchy with a spiritual happiness mandate and popular legitimacy which also have developed a heterodox development approach – this is out of the question today in a Western context and thus particularly interesting in the context of the current panel.


Arguably, three cases fulfill all three requirements at least to some extent, and these are the South and Southeast Asian monarchies of Bhutan, Thailand, and Yogyakarta in Indonesia. In the world of indicator research and policy, Bhutan is by far the most famous case, with its trend-setting “Gross National Happiness” (GNH) launched by King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. Thailand is better known for the economic policy itself, called “Sufficiency Economy” (SE); with the death of its protagonist, King Bhumibol Adulyadey, its fate is however unknown. The case of the Yogyakarta Special Regency (YSR), a province of Indonesia, is sub-national, but the sultan, as an apparently unique case within a democracy, is also the governor of the province, so that he has direct executive power as well. Sultan Hamengku Buwono’s governance and development theory, “Unification of King and People” (UKP), relates very well to GNH and SE.


The analysis shows that, while heterodox additions to standard indicators are feasible, completely reneging on them – which some of these programs initially tried – does not seem to be desired or possible anymore. This appears to be in line with Huntington’s classic argument that monarchy has become obsolete during the 20th Century, mainly because it is scandalous for the middle class, and that where monarchies survive, they must “prove themselves by good works”, i.e. become rational, which in our case means that they must somehow rely on indicators as well. Nonetheless, both the reconsidering of indicators in these contexts and the eventually futile, but genuine policy attempts to do without them altogether can significantly enrich the current discourse about indicators, performance, and legitimacy.


As regards methodology, interviews with key protagonists, stakeholders, and local academics, as well as academic and advisory participant observation, have been used in all three cases as basis or augmentation of classical text-based research.

Structural Barriers to an Asian Century of Public Administration

Kim Moloney - k.moloney@murdoch.edu.au - Murdoch University - Australia

This paper asks whether our global community is witnessing an “Asian Century” in public administration and public management? The short answer is “not quite”. The paper inquiry begins by exploring our question across space and time. There is immediate contestation in our answer to two seemingly simple questions: what is “Asia” and when does a century start? The answer depends on how “we know what we know” in our understanding of Asian and Western public administration, the importance attributed to each set of knowledge, and structure of knowledge, and the directionality of knowledge. Each are linked to global and regional histories, colonization, decolonization, and power. The paper framework is anchored on two key observations: the structure of our intellectual histories and to a lesser extent, the values which are espoused in our administrative life. Each component allows us to compare a Western 20th century with an emergent Asian century, showcase when and where intellectual movements have occurred, compare such movements with their modern Asian version, and the values which are espoused. This includes whether our models are largely Western and if our  intellectual histories and model choices are decolonized. The models from which scholars choose for research not only indicate which knowledge is preferred but also highlights how training, hiring, and publication opportunities influence knowledge creation. The third section extends such questions to transnational and international administration, an area where Asian involvement, models, and lessons learned are shaping global governance. IOs often create, frame, identify with the models and language of the powerful, not the weak. IOs may often disseminate knowledge of the (neo)colonizer. IO control via its creation or vote-share may influence administrative outputs and what is considered actionable administrative knowledge. The paper concludes with a discussion of the structural hurdles and values which influence how public administration scholars and practitioners are educated, where they publish, and how each influences what is considered public administration knowledge.


Note: At the time of abstract submission, I am at the University of Miami. However, by January 2017 and at the time of the IPPA conference, I will be at Senior Lecturer in Public Administration at Murdoch University, Perth Australia.

Where the Western Style Decentralization Reform meets the East (and West): Institutionalization of Local Government Bureaucracy and the Performance of Local Government in the Philippines (tentative title)

Masao Kikuchi - kms@meiji.ac.jp - Meiji University - Japan

Nishimura Kenichi - knishi@ciee.osaka-u.ac.jp - Center for International Education and Exchange - Japan

From a comparative public administration perspective, the Philippine has unique position as it is in the East (Asia), but the culture and language are influenced by the West (Spanish and U.S. colony history). Together with its native culture and history, government system and politics have evolved with both East and Western overtones.


Local government in the Philippines has been traditionally described as “patron-client” relationship, which had been characterized as boss machine politics in the U. S.  local government before the progressive era reform movement. Mayors and local politicians are regard as patron, providing resources to the constituents and asking continuous support as a return. Together with relatively weak administrative control from central agencies over local governments, local governance in the Philippines has been characterized as highly politicized boss machine. Personnel positions in the local government had been thus politically appointed as “pork barrels”. In many cases, this patronage system is closely connected with the political dynasty of the business elites (often the landlords at the same time) in each locality. Contrary to strong individual politicians and families, government as an institution had been rather weak.


Nevertheless, role and performance of local bureaucracy, which defines organizational capacity, is important to constitute the state of local governance. Since individual local politician including mayors and council members cannot fulfill broader sense of the community needs with their limited economic and social resources, improving overall development status inevitably needs the local government capacity as an organization.


In Asia, the decentralization reform swept both developed and developing countries as part of “global public management reform” in the late 20th century. Following the reform trends, decentralization reform took place in the 1980s in the Philippine, and the Local Government Code 1991 was enacted as the hallmark of decentralization reform. With the passage of the code, bulk of government responsibility has been delegated to the local government units. The question remains as to their capacity to fulfill these responsibilities.


Against the background stated above, the paper tries to investigate the performance of local government and its bureaucratic (government) factors in the Philippines. Elite questionnaire survey was conducted to the municipal planning and development coordinator (hereafter MPDC), top ranked government officials in 300 randomly selected local governments. The paper tries to investigate the relationships of MPDC and the government performance with the quantitative analysis. As has been described, local governance in the Philippines has unique features mixed with the West and the East, the findings may have rich implications for those who have strong interests in the comparative public administration, especially in the outcomes of “global public management reform” in Asia.


Masao Kikuchi (Meiji University) and Kenichi Nishimura (Osaka University)


Ha Pham - pnh237@gmail.com - School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington - New Zealand

Evan Berman - evanmberman@gmail.com - Victoria University of Wellington - New Zealand

Pham Ngoc Ha, PhD student

School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

Co-authors: Prof. Evan Berman, Prof. Karl Lofgren






One element of recent New Public Management (NPM)-oriented public sector reforms in many Asian developing countries is the adoption of results-based management. In this countries where national development planning remains to be a primary instrument of policy-making, over past decade, there has been an increased use of results-based approach in planning in practice as an effort to improve the planning functions of states and single public organizations, providing for more efficient, effective and transparent government goals and programs. However, little empirical research on results-based planning (RBP) exists so far.

This study adds to the literature by examining the role of administrative leadership-senior and middle managers in deploying RBP even in traditional bureaucracies that do not provide optimal conditions. Specifically, this research contributes to the panel by addressing the following questions:(1) What is the evidence of RBP outcomes in the Asian developing country context?(2) Which are leadership styles that Asian public managers can practice to increase the use of RBP? (3) What other factors interact and support the effectiveness of administrative leaders? The study is based on both systematic surveys and in-depth interviews with public managers and employees in 15 Vietnamese public organizations such as Hoa Binh Department of Agriculture and Rural development, Directorate of Fisheries, Lao Cai Department of Natural Resources and Environment, etc.

Our research results show that performance/results-based management approach can be successfully applied in developing countries, even for such a communist country with Asian tradition and culture as Vietnam, if appropriate leadership strategies are practiced during its implementation and use. Also, this research finds some differences that a certain leadership style such as transformational, transactional or combined transformational-transactional leadership might take on in Eastern countries compared with that in the Western world. This research includes recommendations for furthering RBP through administrative leadership in Asian developing countries.

Export PDF