Tuesday, July 30, 2013

GOING BEYOND THE WESTERN BORDERS OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION

By Katerina Anestaki, PhD Candidate, Public Affairs
http://www.crcpress.com/product/isbn/9781439869116
Since joining the faculty of EPPS and the department of Public Affairs in 2009, Assistant Professor Dr. Meghna Sabharwal has been very actively pursuing her research interests in human resource management, workforce diversity and high-skilled immigration among others.

Earlier this year, her book “Public Personnel Administration,” made its debut. Co-written with N. Joseph Cayer, Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University, this comprehensive textbook will be useful for graduate programs.  In addition to exploring the field of human resources administration in the public sector, the authors particularly emphasize diversity and affirmative action.

Now Dr. Sabharwal has another book, “Public Administration in South Asia: India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan” co-edited with Evan M. Berman, Professor of Public Management & Director of Internationalization School of Government Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. In a recent interview, I had the opportunity to talk to her about her newest book.

Upon their meeting at the 2010 ASPA Conference (American Society for Public Administration), Dr. Sabharwal and Dr. Berman brought together their common interest in writing about public administration in South Asia. In their book, they address the status and challenges for public administration outside the American borders.

The two compiled the work of leading local scholars that enriches the current literature by shedding light on “that part of the world that works differently,” Dr. Sabharwal said. In view of the similarities between India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and, to a lesser extent, Sri Lanka, the editors provide a comprehensive analysis of the public administration settings in that area of the world.

Dr. Sabharwal specifically pointed out that “while public administration practice and education have become considerably professionalized in the last decade, a useful reference about public administration in these countries that is sufficiently in-depth and well-rounded, is lacking.”

Beyond the limits of the academic work of American scholars, Dr. Sabharwal highlights that the focal point of the book is to offer a local perspective and pave the way to further region-based comparative analyses. Countries in the South Asian region display similar historical, political and governance background and thus, the book becomes a useful tool for public administration specialists and practitioners interested in reforms, public service and bureaucracy in the Indian subcontinent.

Dr. Sabharwal indicated that when public administration books in such regions are written by U.S. scholars, they tend to miss the regional perspective and distinctive features. By following the imperatives and opportunities embedded in the new globalization era, Dr. Sabharwal also emphasizes the “freedom of information” in the countries mentioned in the book, a field where there is still room for greater progress and advancement.

Dr. Sabharwal underscores the efforts and editing challenges that she and Dr. Berman  encountered in their effort to meet the international expectations and publishing criteria. But she added that they were motivated by a desire to add to the content of public administration literature in South Asia.

Overall, the result has been very rewarding given the positive reviews, including a book review in the latest volume of Public Administration Review.

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