Public administration research in South Africa : an assessment of journal articles in Journal of Public Administration & Administratio Publica from 1994-2006

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This dissertation is a study on Public Administration research in South Africa. It explores the current nature of Public Administration research in the country by analysing and categorising journal articles extending over a thirteen year time period from 1994-2006. The hypothesis guiding this dissertation is that South African Public Administration research focuses too heavily on practitioner-orientated research (applied research) rather than enhancing basic, theory-generating research. The methodology used is a content analysis of two prominent South African Public Administration journals: Journal of Public Administration (JOPA) and Administratio Publica (AP). A total of 383 articles (278 from JOPA and 105 from AP) were classified according to a set of descriptive and analytical variables to measure research characteristics prevalent within the field. Findings from this study not only confirm the hypothesis but also conclude that research deficiencies identified in the British and United States contexts exist within South African Public Administration research. This implies that there has been little evidence of developing a cumulative knowledge base within the discipline and research methodologies are generally of a poor quality making little effort to contribute to a systematic, scholarly base of Public Administration knowledge. Therefore basic, scholarly theory development in the field is weak.

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 163-172).