The title for ANZSOG’s forthcoming conference — “Hyper-government: managing and thriving in turbulent times” — needs little explanation for most public sector managers, at least in Australia. Our conference program is motivated by an evident need for public servants to enhance their administrative and policy capabilities in a period of unprecedented change in their operating and authorising environments.
This is not just about the phenomenon of “five prime ministers in five years”, or even the unprecedented electoral losses of several first-term governments — Australian experiences which find no equal across the Tasman. It also encompasses such issues as:
- Demographic growth and diversity and the emergence of stronger divisions in social, political and civic values;
- The rise of 24/7 media, the disruptive power of innovation or the death of the traditional media business model; and
- The emerging transformation of Westminster systems under more volatile and demanding political and social pressures, with Australia’s current hybrid best labelled “Washminster’.
Participants at ANZSOG’s conference can expect to be confronted with expert analysis and opinion on some hard questions that need answers if we are to adapt in a productive way to the changes we observe. Consider:
- What does New Zealand’s very different recent government history tell us about the inevitability of our current politics in Australia, where constant churning is now widely regarded as the “new normal”?
- Why do governments persist in using machinery of government changes as a strategy for administrative improvement when experience reveals so little success from past episodes?
- Are our policy development, program delivery and ministerial advisory systems fit for purpose in this “hyper government” era or have we lost important capacity for delivering public value?
- Are we developing in the new generation of public servants the necessary skills, both hard and soft, to excel in this new world of government?
However, participants should also expect inspiration and the capacity to learn from both successes and failures internationally. They will hear from successful political and bureaucratic leaders, from experts in health, education and cities, and from thinkers and practitioners who have seized on technological advancements and used them for the common good.
Have a look at our website and make up your own mind. And I will look forward to seeing you in Sydney in August!