Governance (GOVN) 405

Innovative Public Management (Revision 2)

GOVN 405

Revision 2 is closed for registrations, replaced by current version

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science. Course can also be used as Applied Studies (Business and Administrative Studies) area of study by credential students only.

Prerequisite: None. There are no formal prerequisites for this course, however, a previous course in public administration, management, or political science is recommended. This is a senior course and as such students are expected to have advanced analytical and writing skills.

Precluded Course: GOVN 405 is a cross-listed course—a course listed under 2 different disciplines—POLI 405. GOVN 405 may not be taken for credit by students who have obtained credit for POLI 405.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Governance, Law & Management Home Page

GOVN 405 has a Challenge for Credit option.
arrow.gifChallenge evaluation.


A comprehensive plan to reform public administration was undertaken in Britain in the late 1970s and 1980s. There were three main elements of public sector reform. First, they included the reduction of the autonomy of the civil service in order to make the state apparatus more responsive to political direction. Second, they entailed the introduction of private sector management practices to promote economy and efficiency in government; and, finally, the increased influence of individual citizens, consumer groups, and communities to shape the design and delivery of public services. The second dimension brought major changes in organizational design and managerial practice, resulting in what came to be called the New Public Management(NPM).

The British approach to public sector reform was emulated by other Western governments that had identified similar priorities: the reduction of public spending, deficit and debt; a reversal of the serious decline in public trust in government; and the need to modernize and streamline public service management in the new era of global competition. The resulting changes in public management—led by governments in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada—shifted public sector organizations from its traditional hierarchical, rule-based, process-oriented and highly bureaucratic structure, toward a flatter, innovative, risk-taking and quality service and results oriented focus. Thus, a new form of public management has been evolving. Its emphasis on increased flexibility, enhanced responsiveness and careful management of resources and programs require that public servants, both managers and staff, be prepared to demonstrate the basic skills of risk-taking, innovation, creative planning and continuous learning in order to revitalise, modernize and even “reinvent” public service and governance.

The purpose of this course is to enable students to understand and to think critically about these reforms to public administration and management. The content is theoretical, practical, and comparative. The course addresses the contemporary challenges to administrative governance, and the powerful forces—such as globalization, technological change, and shifting public expectations and values—which have forced nation states to redefine both their political and administrative roles. Upon completion of the course, students will have a comprehensive appreciation of both the old and new public management in Canada, and have the ability to evaluate them in a comparative perspective.


  • Unit 1: Old—and New—Public Management
  • Unit 2: What is Innovation?
  • Unit 3: Organizational Change
  • Unit 4: Culture and Values
  • Unit 5: Comparative Aspects
  • Unit 6: Managerialism and Empowerment
  • Unit 7: Political and Public Servant Relationships
  • Unit 8: Alternative Service Delivery (ASD)
  • Unit 9: Examples of Innovative Management
  • Unit 10: Continuous Learning and Sustaining Momentum
  • Unit 11: Concluding Thoughts


The final grade in GOVN 405 will be based on the grades you achieve on the quizzes, critical review, case study, and final exam. To receive credit for the course, you must complete all of the assignments, achieve a minimum mark of 50 percent on the final examination, and obtain an overall course composite grade of “D” (50 percent) or better. The following indicates the assignments for credit and their weighting toward the final grade.

Quiz 1 Quiz 2 Critical Review Case Study Final Exam Total
10% 10% 15% 25% 40% 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Kenneth Kernaghan, Brian Marson and Sandford Borins. 2000. The New Public Organization. Toronto, The Institute of Public Administration of Canada.

Mohamed Charih and Arthur Daniels, Eds. 1997. New Public Management and Public Administration in Canada; Nouveau management public et administration publique au Canada. Toronto, The Institute of Public Administration of Canada.

Other materials

The course materials include a student manual, study guide, assignment manual, and a reading file.

Challenge for Credit Course Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university level course.

Full information for the Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the GOVN 405 challenge registration, you must complete all required components, and achieve an overall grade of at least “D” (50 percent).

Written Assignment 1 Written Assignment 2 Exam Total
5% 15% 80% 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, July 2009