The Study of Public Management: Conceptualizing a Design-Oriented Social Science


  • Michael Barzelay London School of Economics and Political Science



administração pública, políticas públicas, ciências sociais, pesquisa


Talking about the field of public management is a convenient way to idealize research, teaching, and learning about aspects of public policy and administration. The view that public management is concerned with the development and operation of public programs and government organizations falls within the idealization.  So, too, does the field’s interdisciplinary constitution. However, what works in staging public management within a patchwork of strategic action fields -- universities, the social science academy, and public administration professionals -- does not provide a basis for academics to address deeper questions about its character.  The need to address such questions has been forcefully stated by the field’s leading thinkers, from time to time. This paper idealizes public management as a design-oriented social science, similar in concept to what Herbert Simon called a proper “science of the artificial.” The paper shows that to idealize public management in such a way requires much clarification (and extension) of Simon’s own ideas as he presented them. The resulting idealization of public management as a field of study provides a basis for a rich dialogue about the pursuit of academic excellence in the study of public policy and administration.


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Barzelay, M. (2018). The Study of Public Management: Conceptualizing a Design-Oriented Social Science. Revista Do Serviço Público, 69(1), 33-56.