‘New Public Management’ and South Africa’s ‘New Public Administration’ For policymakers and senior managers, the difference between learning by rote and learning to think independently is central. In rote learning we learn how to exactly reproduce something, we copy. This is fine for some purposes: we need to know exactly where the keys on the keyboard are, otherwise we produce nonsense or type very slowly; and we must reproduce our signature consistently otherwise our cheques or credit card payments may be rejected. But for most purposes in policy and senior management we need to make intelligent judgments about cases that consist of a unique new set of circumstances, not completely the same as anything we saw before. We have to think critically, to judge how far previous examples or various general ideas are relevant to the new case. By ‘critically’ I mean relying on evidence, good logic and considered values, not automatic opposition. A good critic gives both praise and criticism, according to when they seem due. Automatic opposition is uncritical; so is automatically following fashion.

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Series ISS Staff Group 2: States, Societies and World Development
Journal African Development
Gasper, D.R. (2004). Fashion, Learning and Values in Public Management: Reflections on South African and international experience. African Development, 27(3), 17–47. Retrieved from