Analysis of the Field of Public Management: A Response to Kelman, Thompson, Jones and Schedler

Philip J. Candreva


This essay examines the field of public management as explicated in the dialogue between Kelman, Thompson, Jones and Schedler (2003) and others, from the perspective of the philosophy of science. While there may be wide consensus that a substantial body of information about public management exists, Kelman, Thompson, Jones and Schedler are consistent in their view that empirical generalizations and underlying principles do not exist. This assertion notwithstanding, this essay does not attempt to make sense of the theories of public management, rather it tries to make sense of public management as a separate and distinct field of scientific inquiry, and, for that purpose, the philosophy of science is useful. What follows are three views of public management looking through that philosophical lens: the origins of the discipline, the nature of the practice, and the community of scholars.

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