Toward a Definition of Strategic Management for the Public Sector
AbstractThe literature on strategic management for public policy and administration has developed without adequate theoretical grounding in regard to the nature of competition among public agencies, the arenas within which competition occurs, and the resources used in the competitive interactions. In this article I review relevant literature from business strategy, public policy, and bureaucratic politics to help construct a theoretical paradigm on which to build usable concepts of strategic management for public policy and administration. The author suggests the following vision of public sector strategic management: Agencies compete within a pluralist political universe composed of dynamic public policy subsystems whose members accumulate and use resources to advance the power and policy preferences of their agencies. Competition among public agencies is seen as offensive (pirating) or defensive (turf-protecting) and as intrasubsystem or intersubsystem in nature. The writings of Downs (1967) and Leontiades (1982) are particularly useful in suggesting the development of these concepts. Public policy subsystems are seen as being distributive, redistributive, or regulatory in accordance with the typology developed by Ripley and Franklin (1984) and others. Resources, varying in the degree of liquidity, are seen as growing out of knowledge and political support as suggested by Rourke (1984), Meier (1987), and others. The article concludes that scholars of public policy and administration should concentrate upon further development of empirical concepts to build a usable theory of public sector strategic management.