SAAPAM 19th Annual Conference

May 7-10, 2019
University of Mpumalanga, Nelspruit
Theme: Public Affairs, Governance and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The nature of Public Affairs and Governance is embedded in the question of harnessing public resources to resolve the most pressing needs of society. Abraham Maslow’s paper presented in 1943 on the hierarchy of human needs remains compelling to understand the human behavior and needs in this context. These needs include physiological, safely, affiliation, self-esteem and self-actualization. In essence, political parties in government are often considered catalysts in providing interventions to addressing some of these basic human needs issues in cases where they have collective value for a society. Classification of government in ministries and departments is an example of providing a focused approach to identify those needs which are inherently to the benefit of society as opposed to individual or private. Often a classification of this nature considers areas such as (public) health, (public) education, (public) policing, (public) arts and culture and (public) enterprises, among others. This kind of a situation begs for an art of public affairs and governance to provide institutional mechanisms to realize set goals for each area. In his seminal work on ‘What is governance?’, Francis Fukuyama’s 2013 paper refers to this kind of a classification as the ‘functioning of executive branches and their bureaucracies’. This is an important discourse on governance matters because a question of state capacity, meritocracy, deployment are among those which form critical aspects of maximizing public resources in policy making and implementation of governments activities. This kind of a discourse undertakes an organizing role where members of society with knowledge and expertise are considered to drive the agenda of political parties in government to realize their electoral promises to the populace. This is also to ensure that both the private sector and individuals find opportunities to realize their goals which would serve to advance society is various forms which are considered competitive both locally and abroad. Furthermore, since the 18th century, human innovations have contributed to improvements of lives through the use of technology. This has continued to facilitate developments which made lives of people easier during some of the following critical phases and developments viz: Industrial, Rail, Steel and electricity,

Oil, automobiles and mass production, as well as Information and communication technologies. These are some of the key developments phases which have changed the socio-economic and political landscapes of the world. The current discourse on the fourth industrial revolution considers the use of robotic technology to accelerate production levels within the employment sectors. In some instances to developed world,  the robotic technology is already benefiting governments in several areas such as public transport, public health and public education.

The relevance of this theme ‘Public Affairs, Governance and the Fourth Industrial Revolution’ is premised on the intersection of these concepts within the discipline of Public Administration. In other words, the  association between public affairs, governance and the fourth industrial revolution serves as an important consideration for delegates in determining the positioning of public institutions’ readiness to absorb smart technology in their functioning. A more pragmatic approach is provided through provision of sub-themes for papers to be considered during SAAPAM’s 19th Annual Conference.

SAAPAM’s 19th Annual Conference will be co-hosted with the University of Mpumalanga in Nelspruit. Since its establishment by the government statute in 2013, the University of Mpumalanga has opened its doors to offer higher education qualifications during 2014. It has created and maintains a conducive and enabling teaching and research environment to conduct high-quality teaching and high impact research and scholarship. This is also achieved through collaborations with strategic partners locally, nationally and internationally. The university’s newly built infrastructure is able to cater for a conference of SAAPAM’s magnitude and even more. The infrastructure is of world class standards with modern finishings to allow a 21st century university environment for lectures and events. Nelspruit itself is the capital city of Mpumalanga province. The province is one of South Africa’s top tourist destinations in which the majestic Three Rondavels, Kruger National Park and the traditional villages, among others are found. The timing and venue are ideal for SAAPAM’s 2019 Annual Conference where delegates with their colleagues, friends and families could spend time adding leisure time to their plans. Delegates could undertake tourist plans either before or after the conference to allow maximum participation at the conference as well as enjoying discovering the magnificent Mpumalanga province. Delegates are also advised that a conference tour will also be arranged by the conference organizing team.

Conference sub-themes

Governance and public affairs
• The state of public health provision
• Improving public education
• Public housing provision and managing informal settlements
• The role of state owned enterprises
• Social welfare system and indigent policy
• Land reform programs and public management

State capacity, reforms and leadership
• Enhancing the performance management system
• Induction, education and training of public officials
• Improving research quality in the public sector
• Downsizing, retrenchments and transfers
• Human capital and skills development
• Public leadership from the heart and the question of legitimacy
• Values-based leadership and integrity

Public sector ethics, trust and values
• Developing and implementing public sector codes of conduct
• Societal values and linkages to public sector
• Maintaining trust in government
• Prevention and punishment of corruption and unethical conduct
• Transforming institutional culture in the public sector
• Institutional actors and programmes on social cohesion and nation building
• Whistleblower protection in the public sector

Election promises and the use of public institutions and resources
• Electoral reforms, democracy and the proportional representation electoral system
• Election outcomes and voting patterns
• The notion of free and fair elections
• The independence of Independent Electoral Commissions (IECs)
• Government, political parties and societal relationships
• Preventing post-electoral violence
• Local government and basic service delivery
• Unbundling the notion of coalition councils
• Municipal finances and auditing
• Intergovernmental relationship and the provision of quality services
• Public participation and local democracy
• Entrenched local protests and municipal governance structures
• Citizen focused services in local government

Fourth Industrial Revolution
• Artificial intelligence
• Internet of things
• Public service innovation models and discourses
• Recognising excellence in the public sector
• The functioning of Thusong Service Centres
• Open science and open data
• Taking a stock of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Teaching methods in Public Administration
• Examining the decolonisation of the Public Administration curriculum
• How do we Africanise P(p)ublic A(a)dministration both as a practice and science?
• Curriculum reform approaches, initiatives and outcomes
• Dominant teaching methods in Public Administration

Scholarship and Research in Public Administration
• What are the teleological, epistemological, ontological, axiological and methodological issues in Public Administration?
• The question of decolonising research methodologies
• Prominent mixed research methods in Public Administration
• Data collection methods and instruments

International Public Affairs and governance matters
• United Nations and Public Administration guidelines
• African Union, African Renaissance and the governance discourse
• SADC governance instruments and protocol
• BRICS strategy and governance issues

Abstracts of between 250-350 words should be submitted on or before Nov. 30, 2018. The submission date for full papers is Feb. 28, 2019.

In keeping with item 3 of the Editorial Policy of the Journal of Public Administration, all papers submitted by the due date shall be circulated anonymously to specialist referees for evaluation. It is only on the basis of the referees’ reports that the Editor may either accept or reject any paper submitted for possible publication in the subsequent edition of the Journal. Except in special cases where prior permission has been obtained, papers should not exceed 8000 words.

Abstracts and full papers should be-emailed to and copy

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