13th SAAPAM ANNUAL CONFERENCE

full name / name of organization: 
South African Association of Public Administration and Management
contact email: 
SAAPAM@tut.ac.za

From public administration to new public management; from new public management to governance; from governance to where? With all these nomenclatures, the fundamental question is: where are we heading to? The subtext in this question is, do these nomenclatures represent the evolution of the field? If they do represent the evolution, a further question that comes to mind is why is it that in the long history of the field the discipline has not yet settled its theoretical question? The notion of governance, which is bandied about so much, with some suggesting that it provides a conceptual analytical tool from which the present could be understood, and from which the future of the present, which is tomorrow, could be appropriately projected, does not seem to offer much. Is this because this concept has not been critically considered beyond the ideological confines of its originative historical context? Or, does this necessarily means that the evolution of the discipline in terms of its various historical epochs epistemologically represent nothing? If so, what is the implication of the theorylessness of the discipline of public administration on the praxis?

The context for this question is that theory informs practice. In our field, the question therefore has to be, what informs our practice. The answer to this question appears fairly obvious. Nothing of theoretical soundness seems to inform practice in our field. Does this suggest the end of the discipline, in terms of its evolution? Or, perhaps, before we can even go that far, the question that we need to ask ourselves is, has the discipline ever evolved? If so the question is, what are the consequences of that evolution? Are they ingrained in the concept of governance? In charting the future for the modern society, can we use the concept of governance to discipline our imagination of its future? Is this concept of governance our concept? If so, in what way? If it is not, we are therefore necessarily compelled to ask the question that Frances Morphy asks in his book Contested Governance, whose governance is it, which we are we so much preoccupied with, and for whose interest?

To answer this question, we need to consider the originative ideological context from which this concept evolved. If the results of this exercise reveal that in the concept of governance we are chasing the “ghosts that are not ours”, are we prepared to construct an alternative for the present and posterity? This question should necessarily be answered in a positive sense, for we cannot build knowledge on the basis of what Ali Mazrui calls “alien paradigm” or what Karl Marx characterizes as “false systems of political, social and moral concepts invented” to preserve ideological hegemony of the global power. What is the future of governance in our contemporary world?

The National Board of the South African Association of Public Administration and Management (SAAPAM), in conjunction with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), invites you to its 13th Annual Conference, which is a gathering of scholars and practitioners, to be part of the intellectual process of imagining the future of governance. Come and be part of this important dialogue which seeks to influence new theoretical trajectories on matters that pertain to the business of government. i. This intellectual event is scheduled to take place on 03-05 April 2013 in Cape Town, Cape Peninsula University of Technology. A plenary for practitioners is envisaged, where narratives from the practice or case study presentations on service delivery in the different sectors of government would be accommodated. Government officials are therefore as well strongly encouraged to submit papers for presentations based on their experiences in managing the dynamics of governance.

Original papers on the theme of the conference which seeks to inform theoretical and policy discourses on matters of governance are hereby invited for presentation and possible publication in the Journal of Public Administration

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