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Public Administration research in South Africa: An assessment of journal publications, 1994-2006

By Robert Cameron and Lauren McLaverty


The hypothesis of this article is that academics in the eld of Public Administration academics are focusing primarily on practice-oriented applied research and are not enhancing knowledge development. There has not been the same development of a cumulative and meaningful knowledge base in the discipline that there has been in the other social sciences. Theory development is weak. An empirical database was developed to test this hypothesis. An analysis was undertaken of the two main South African Public Administration journals, the Journal of Public Administration (JOPA) and Administratio Publica (AP), from 1994–2006, to establish the state of academic research in the eld. A database of 383 articles was compiled, including 2 8 articles from JOPA and 105 from AP. The methodology used was a content analysis, consisting of both qualitative and quantitative research approaches. By triangulating ndings from the six main analytical variables (research topic, research purpose, research methodology, research focus, research cumulativeness and institutional funding), it was concluded that there has been little theory development in South African Public Administration. There has also not been the development of a cumulative and meaningful knowledge base in the discipline. There are a number of reasons for this, which are discussed below. The article concludes by suggesting ways to improve the quality of research in Public Administration academia

Publisher: University of Cape Town
Year: 2008
OAI identifier: oai:open.uct.ac.za:11427/22035
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