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date: 01 October 2023

Strategic Management in Public Administrationlocked

Strategic Management in Public Administrationlocked

  • John BrysonJohn BrysonHubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
  •  and Bert GeorgeBert GeorgeDepartment of Public Governance and Management, Ghent University


Strategic management is an approach to strategizing by public organizations or other entities that integrates strategy formulation and implementation, and typically includes strategic planning to formulate strategies, ways of implementing strategies, and continuous strategic learning. Strategic management can help public organizations or other entities achieve important goals and create public value.

Strategy is what links capabilities and aspirations. Four broad types of strategists (as individuals, teams, organizations, and collaborations) in public administration exist: the reactor (low aspirations, low capabilities), the dreamer (high aspirations, low capabilities), the underachiever (low aspirations, high capabilities) and the savvy strategist (high aspirations, high capabilities).

There are eight approaches to strategic planning. More comprehensive process approaches include those influenced by the Harvard Policy Model, logical incrementalism, and stakeholder management. More partial process approaches include strategic negotiations, strategic issues management, and strategic planning as a framework for innovation. Finally, two content approaches also exist, namely, portfolio and competitive forces analyses.

Seven approaches to strategic management systems can be discerned. These include: the integrated units of management approach (or layered or stacked units of management), strategic issues management approach, contract approach, collaboration approach (including the lead organization, shared governance, and network administrative organization approaches), portfolio management approach, goal or benchmark approach, and hybrid approaches.

Strategic planning and management are approaches to identifying and addressing challenges. Neither is a single invariant thing but is instead a set of concepts, processes, procedures, tools, techniques, and practices (and structures in the case of strategic management systems) that must be drawn on selectively and adapted thoughtfully and strategically to specific contexts if they are to help produce desirable results. While there are a variety of generic approaches to both, the boundaries among them are not necessarily clear, and strategic planning and management in practice are typically hybridic. Research is accumulating about which approaches to strategic planning and management work under which circumstances, how, and why, but much work remains to be done.


  • Policy, Administration, and Bureaucracy

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