Module ASB-3501:
Comparative Public Admin

Module Facts

Run by Bangor Business School

10 Credits or 5 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Koen Bartels

Overall aims and purpose

NOTE: If you register for this module, you cannot also register for ASB-3310 Financial Econometrics.

This course introduces students to the organisation and management of the public and non-profit sector. It explains what the differences are between business and public administration and why it is important to study how political decisions and public services are put into practice. The course aims to provide students with an understanding of how public administration works in different settings. It explores the role of national culture and history, politics, and levels of government. Comparing three European case studies along these dimensions, important trends and developments are highlighted, such as decentralisation and austerity. This will prepare students for careers in a wide range of roles working in or with the public and non-profit sector across the world.

Course content

Introduction and overview: public administration and the comparative approach Culture and history of public administration; Relationships between politics and administration; Multi-level governance; The United Kingdom: a system of asymmetric power; The Netherlands: the consensus state tradition; Italy: a history of administrative complexity; Decentralisation, collaboration, and participation; Globalisation, privatisation, and austerity; Conclusions: reforms, comparison, and non-western societies.

Assessment Criteria


Demonstrates a basic, yet not always coherent understanding of decentralisation. Discusses some of its goals, changes, and implications, but omits important elements. Is able to relate elements of the reforms to theories of governance and make basic comparisons. Offers some reflection on the information and analysis provided. Uses a satisfactory yet limited number of references, mainly online sources.


Demonstrates a good, yet at points lacking understanding of decentralisation. Provides a more or less complete and coherent overview of its goals, changes, and implications. Is able to analyse the reforms in reference to theories and issues of governance and formulate comparative insights. Offers suitable reflection on the information and analysis provided. Uses an appropriate variety of references, including some academic sources, authoritative reports, or legal documents.


Demonstrates an excellent understanding of decentralisation. Provides a thorough overview of its goals, changes, and implications. Is able to critically analyse and compare the reforms based on theories and issues of governance and reflect on its theoretical, practical and normative implications in a comparative fashion. Offers critical reflection on the information and analysis provided. Uses a comprehensive variety of references, including key academic sources, authoritative reports, and legal documents.

Learning outcomes

  1. Understand the organisation and management of public administration in a comparative fashion,

  2. Appreciate the context and importance of studying public administration.

  3. Understand the role of national culture and history, politics, and levels of government.

  4. Recognise the implications of important trends and developments such as decentralisation, collaboration, globalisation, and austerity.

  5. Appreciate the importance and challenges involved with reforms and comparison.

  6. Use the insights to navigate the world of public administration in their future work settings.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Coursework 40
Examination S2 2hrs 60

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Tutorial 3
Lecture 20
Private study 77

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others


Reading list

Peters, B.G. (2016). The Politics of Bureaucracy. 7th edition. London: Routledge. Chandler, J.A. (Ed.) (2014). Comparative Public Administration. London: Routledge.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: