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Public administration Dissertation Topics

Public administration Dissertation Topics

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Example public administration dissertation topic 1:

Developing public engagement strategies with regards to parking management within urban centres.

In 2013, Middlesbrough Borough Council announced that it would be reinstating free parking in an attempt to encourage greater numbers of shoppers, whilst a number of councils in the south-east have announced increased parking changes. Parking charges and the management and regulation of parking spaces is a contentious issue not only for drivers but also for shopkeepers and those in charge of council budgets. This dissertation seeks, through following the work of the departments responsible for parking matters in the councils of Windsor, Guildford, and Hastings, to further ideas as to how to engage members of the public in a meaningful dialogue with council leaders and officials with regards to the contrary needs to provide parking, fund parking, encourage more visitors to town centres, and balance the budget in an era when all sectors and persons are struggling to cope financially. This dissertation has the potential to make a real difference to the development of this aspect of public administration and policy over the next few years.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Kerley, R. (2007). Controlling urban car parking-an exemplar for public management?. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 20(6), pp. 519-530.
  • Rye, T. and Ison, S. (2005). Overcoming barriers to the implementation of car parking charges at UK workplaces. Transport Policy, 12(1), pp. 57-64.
  • Warnaby, G., Bennison, D., Davies, B. J. and Hughes, H. (2002). Marketing UK towns and cities as shopping destinations. Journal of Marketing Management, 18(9-10), pp. 877-904.

Example public administration dissertation topic 2:

Rural transformations with regards to the policy of bus-passenger subsidies for pensioners: a case study of effects in Cornwall

The idea of free nationwide bus-travel (using local services) was introduced by the Labour Government under Tony Blair. Recording, thereafter, record numbers of pensioners using such free travel, these schemes have come increasingly under the budget spotlight as a consequence of the need for budget constraint and the cutting of non-essential services in this era of austerity. Using focus group interviews in Cornwall, this dissertation assess not only the positive benefits that the introduction of the scheme brought but also notes the fears and concerns of residents if such concessionary travel schemes as funded by councils were to be removed. Seeking to further inform the public debate that surrounds such issues, this is a dissertation that also undertakes interviews with council leaders in the area.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Grayling, T. (2001). Any more fares? Delivering better bus services. London: IPPR.
  • Hine, J. (2007). Travel demand management and social exclusion. Mobilities, 2(1), pp. 109-120.
  • Kurauchi, F., Schmocker, J. D. and Bell, M. G. (2007). Travel choice simulation: predicting travel demand for accessible transport services. In 11th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons, 18-21 June, Montreal, Canada.

Example public administration dissertation topic 3:

Increasing citizens' knowledge in the workings of local government through interactive web portals.

This is an exploratory dissertation that seeks to investigate the benefits that interactive websites bring to citizens' understanding of local government. Comparing and contrasting the home pages of the councils of Dudley, Wolverhampton, and Solihull, this dissertation first undertakes a content analysis and usability analysis of the sites. Thereafter, using 50 students from Manchester Metropolitan University as a focus group, the students are requested to access and evaluate a number of the services available online. Recording their experiences of using the site using a Likert scale, this quantitative piece of primary research will enable comments to be furthered relating to the usability of the three web sites and the extent to which their interactive elements empowered and encouraged young citizens to use their sites.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Carter, L. and Weerakkody, V. (2008). E-government adoption: A cultural comparison. Information Systems Frontiers, 10(4), pp. 473-482.
  • Paris, M. (2006). Website accessibility: a survey of local e-government websites and legislation in Northern Ireland. Universal Access in the Information Society, 4(4), pp. 292-299.
  • Wright, S. and Street, J. (2007). Democracy, deliberation and design: the case of online discussion forums. New Media & Society, 9(5), pp. 849-869.

Example public administration dissertation topic 4:

Planning - What is the need for elected member committees?

Given that a majority of planning decisions are taken under delegated powers and that, where this is not the case, councillors generally either follow the advice of their professional planners or risk having their rejections over-ruled, this dissertation questions whether or not there is a need for elected councillors to play a part in the planning making process. Suggesting that the 'call in' of decisions at departmental level provides an adequate accountability check, the removal of the 'elected element' from such decisions would, this dissertation furthers, and speed up the planning processes enabling greater efficiencies to be made. Whether or not such a proposal should apply merely to certain categories of local planning application (shops, construction of housing estates and the like) or whether it should also be applied to nationwide infrastructural developments such as HS2 is a further point that this dissertation could address in seeking to proffer ways to improve the efficiency of the present administration of planning processes within England and Wales.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Bedford, T., Clark, J. and Harrison, C. (2002). Limits to new public participation practices in local land use planning. Town Planning Review, 73(3), pp. 311-331.
  • Chettiparamb, A. (2007). Re-conceptualizing public participation in planning: a view through autopoiesis. Planning Theory, 6(3), pp. 263-281.
  • Townsend, A. and Tully, J. (2004, August). Modernising planning: Public participation in the UK planning system. In Conference on Urban and Regional Planning, 25-29 August, Porto, Portugal.

Example public administration dissertation topic 5:

A review of the changing nature of central-local power relations 1950-1974.

Commenting upon the changing relationship between central and local government, the Mayor of Lincoln, Alderman J.W.F. Hill (1946, p. 47) maintained at the Association of Municipal Corporations conference of 1946, that local authorities had ceased to be individual policy-making bodies and instead became mere local agents and managers for central government; the relationship between central and locality was becoming one epitomised by 'reference[s] to control and direction. It is the language of principal and agent'. Using this contemporary opinion as its analytical starting point this dissertation charts the development and changing nature of central and local government relations in the period 1950-1974; a period that witnessed not only the creation of economic development regions but also the call for government to be reorganised on a series of city regions (the work of Derek Senior) and culminated in the largest structural and geographic reform of local government in England and Wales since 1888.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Hill, J.W.F. (1946). Report of proceedings of conference on local government: September 25th - September 26th, 1946, (London: Association of Municipal Corporations).
  • Senior, D. (1969). Memorandum of Dissent, Vol. II. Royal Commission on Local Government in England, 1966-1969, Cmnd. 4040 - I/1969.
  • Hart, Sir W. (1966). The conurbations and the regions. Political Quarterly, 37(2), 128-138.

Example public administration dissertation topic 6:

Re-engaging citizens in community welfare: Lessons to be learnt from PACT meetings?

Police and Communities Together (PACT) meetings have, in the time that they have been established, seen new relationships forged between crime prevention officials and ordinary residents. Working together to highlight issues of concern and set local priorities they are, as this dissertation notes, seen by their proponents to have rejuvenated community relationships between people and their local police officers. Using the success of PACT meetings in Lancashire, this dissertation questions whether there are lessons to be learnt from the schemes that could be applied to issues of community welfare, and in particular the setting of local health priorities with reference to individual GP surgeries in Wigan and the communities they serve.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Boutilier, M., Cleverly, S. and Labonte, R. (2000). Community as a setting for health promotion. In, Poland, B.D, Green, L.W. and Rootman, I. (eds), Settings for health promotion: Linking theory and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, pp. 250-279.
  • Cochrane, A. (2004). Modernisation, managerialism and the culture wars: Reshaping the local welfare state in England. Local Government Studies, 30(4), pp. 481-496.
  • Innes, M., Abbott, L., Lowe, T. and Roberts, C. (2009). Seeing like a citizen: field experiments in 'community intelligence-led policing'. Police Practice and Research: An International Journal, 10(2), pp. 99-114.

Example public administration dissertation topic 7:

'Citizen juries' as a means of allocating discretionary budgets - A qualitative study

The development of discretionary community project funds within district councils has led many to seek ways to actively involve members of the public in deciding how such moneys should be allocated. This dissertation queries whether the establishment of transient 'citizen juries' would be a workable mechanism for such bodies as it would ensure that ever-changing and fully representational sections of society were involved in the decision-making process. Seeking to carry out primary research with councillors, community leaders and existing members of such public project fund committees, this is a dissertation that could easily be tailored to an individual geographic area to which the researcher has ease of access.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Rowe, R. and Shepherd, M. (2002). Public participation in the new NHS: No closer to citizen control? Social Policy & Administration, 36(3), pp. 275-290.
  • Ryfe, D. M. (2002). The practice of deliberative democracy: A study of 16 deliberative organizations. Political Communication, 19(3), pp. 359-377.
  • Wakeford, T. (2002). Citizens' juries: A radical alternative for social research. Social Research Update, 37, pp. 1-5.

Example public administration dissertation topic 8:

The quangoisation of housing - A review of policy and practice post-2000.

In the mid-1950s, the number of rented council-owned properties exceeded those provided by the private sector. Today, not only have the number of private rents increased (to a level now unmatched in percentage terms since prior to the 'right to buy scheme' under Margaret Thatcher), but also the role of councils has been largely replaced by housing associations and other non-elected bodies. Using both primary and secondary data this dissertation evaluates how the voices of tenants have been transformed as a consequence through such changes in the housing market and does so by interviewing long-term residents in Bromsgrove, who have seen the care and maintenance of their homes transferred from council control to housing association over the last 20 years.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Kersting, N., Caulfield, J., Nickson, R. A., Olowu, D. and Wollmann, H. (2009). Local governance reform in global perspective. Wiesbaden: Verlag.
  • Röcke, A. (2008). Participatory budgeting in the UK: From the "grassroots" to the national agenda. Manchester: The Participatory Budgeting Unit.
  • Wollmann, H. (2000). Local government systems: from historic divergence towards convergence? Great Britain, France, and Germany as comparative cases in point. Environment and Planning C, 18(1), pp. 33-56.

Example public administration dissertation topic 9:

Public administration and the detraditionalisation of local police forces: A review of former practices in Burton-upon-Trent.

It is often forgotten that within living memory a majority of large towns within England had responsibility for their own police forces. Indeed, they were only subsumed into the existing county-based forces as a consequence of the Police Act 1964. This dissertation looks at the nature of the administration of those smaller town-based forces in the period immediately prior to their abolition and focuses upon the force then in operation within Burton-upon-Trent. Focusing on issues of technological development, manpower, administrative control and democratic responsibility (such forces being responsible to the local town councils), this is a dissertation that would greatly benefit from interviews being conducted with former constables who served upon the force.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Jacob, I. (1967). The future of the police. Police Journal, 40, pp. 309-315.
  • Jones, T. and Newburn, T. (2002). The transformation of policing? Understanding current trends in policing systems. British Journal of Criminology, 42(1), pp. 129-146.
  • Savage, S. (2003). Tackling tradition: Reform and modernization of the British police. Contemporary Politics, 9(2), pp. 171-184.

Example public administration dissertation topic 10:

An examination of a targets-led culture in the National Health Service.

The final report in 2013 by Robert Francis QC, of the Independent Inquiry into Care Provided by Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has revealed a culture of the achievement of targets taking precedence over basic health care in some sections of the NHS. This dissertation examines that report, as well as primary and secondary sources, and evaluates whether the existence of a targets-led culture in the NHS grew from political pressure to diminish waiting times, and how this many be managed in the future (given that such political pressure is unlikely to disappear). Further, it considers whether the spectacular growth of managers in the NHS since 1990 is a significant factor in this culture.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Dopson, S., FitzGerald, L., Ferlie, E., Gabbay, J. and Locock, L. (2002). No magic targets! Changing clinical practice to become more evidence based. Health Care Management Review, 27(3), pp. 35-47.
  • House of Commons (2013). Independent inquiry into care provided by Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. London: HMSO.
  • Pronovost, P. J. and Lilford, R. (2011). A road map for improving the performance of performance measures. Health Affairs, 30(4), pp. 569-573.

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