The applicative nature of Public Administration and Management (henceforth referred
to as PAM) as a social science discipline is evident. Therefore it is generally maintained
that this discipline’s relevance revolves around the practical solutions that it holds for
challenges in governance. During PAM curriculation exercises at tertiary institutions,
various questions are often posed. These include questions such as: To what extent
does the discipline address the real world of governance? Does it adequately equip
the prospective public manager for the demands associated with the executive arm of
government? How can the theory-practice gap in tuition be bridged?
Ultimately, the question remains: Is PAM’s relevance only centred on its vocational
nature, or should its relevance also be sought on a more fundamental, scientific
level? If the only concern of PAM as applied science is providing applications to
serve government, are the following aspects not sacrificed: scientific knowledge
creation, independent and critical engagement, and theory development?
The purpose of this article is to explore the following avenues: the potential
relevance of the discipline for society, the government as study domain and main
employer, the university as educational service provider, and the student who
desires value for money as well as prospects for future employment.