School of Business and Management

Managing Public Services (BUS328)

Semester: A
Level: 6
Module code: BUS328
Module organiser: Dr Stella Ladi

Module Overview

This module provides students with a strong foundation in understanding public management in its context of political accountability, media scrutiny, multiple tiers of governance and public financial management. It begins by introducing students to the role of government and the question of what, if anything, is distinctive about public management from management generally. We examine what is peculiar to the public services in respect of their accountability to elected politicians, the intensity media scrutiny and the legal requirements for transparency. Then we examine arguments about recent trends in reforms in public management internationally. Issues of contracting, commissioning and use of vouchers to procure public services from private and non-profit bodies examined. We explore the impact of the efforts to introduce detailed performance to public services and their unintended consequences. The changing world of regulation and deregulation in light of these reforms is discussed. Of great interest internationally are strategies for e-government, and we examine the challenges involved. These include making intelligent use of social media, of designing government systems of online management of services which respect citizens’ expectations of privacy, and the grave difficulties of managing very large information technology projects. We consider relations between central and local government and at the dilemmas presented by initiatives for decentralisation. The peculiarities of public finance and its management create a distinctive context for all public managers and not just for those who work in finance departments. We examine the distinctive importance in the public sector of budget setting and recent developments in budget reform, consider innovative financial vehicles and look at the challenges of cutback management during periods of ‘austerity’ in the public sector. Finally, we look at the global tier of public organizations such as the World Trade Organisation, the International Labor Organization and the World Health Organisation to consider some of the peculiar management challenges presented by working at the global level. Throughout the module, students will work with current and recent case studies. The module does not privilege any one particular approach, but offers a broad orientation to core ideas through different theoretical positions, discussions and their critique.

Indicative Reading List

There is no main text book. Students are required to use a variety of materials and recommended texts available via QMPlus as well as most book referred to in the reading list in the module outline.


  • Examination 80%
  • Presentation 20%