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Recent socioeconomic and political events have triggered a global interest in government systems and practices. Competition over foreign direct investments has propelled calls for reform at all levels. Governments are now accommodating to a new role—one which serves the “people” in an efficient and effective manner while facilitating investment and economic activity, regulating transactions, and enforcing the rule of law. Indeed, the world is witnessing a paradigm shift in the function of government, from a provider to a regulator and facilitator of change. 

This shift in the role of government has been felt profoundly in Arab bureaucracies and public administration. As Arab governments strive to keep apace of the challenges and opportunities that globalization presents, there is growing realization of the dire state of and pressing need for public sector reform. Across the Arab world efforts are being made to decentralize power so that local authorities enjoy more autonomy, that accountability of public officials vis-à-vis their citizens is increased, and transparency permeates the access and exchange of information. It is hoped that such reforms will instigate a culture of participation and openness—a culture in which government and citizens alike can thrive.

The Arab Public Management Research Initiative

The Arab Public Management Research Initiative at the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government examines the dynamics of change in Arab public administration. It explores the overriding institutional and organizational models in the region, and the factors affecting their development. By disseminating experiences in public administration, and exposing Arab governments to international practices, the Initiative sets a framework for the examination of the variables affecting the success of reform efforts in the Arab world. 

To achieve this, the Initiative has adopted a multi-pronged approach as highlighted below:

1. MENA Case Studies on Governance and Public Management 
Series editors: Robert Beschel (World Bank), Khalid Al-Yahya and Mhamed Biygautane (Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government)
The MENA Case Studies on Governance and Public Management are a collaborative engagement between the World Bank’s Middle East and North Africa Vice Presidency and the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government regarding governance and public management in the MENA region.
The following cases are intended to form the initial nucleus of an expanding number of case studies on governance and public sector reform in the Middle East and North Africa. They provide a range of experience underscoring the issues and challenges confronting senior public sector managers seeking to implement various types of reforms. Substantively, they cover a spectrum of issues ranging from civil service reform and public financial management to policy coordination, private sector development, anticorruption, decentralization and improved service delivery. Geographically, they cover ten different countries from the Maghreb and the Mashriq. The intended audience is policy makers and government officials, academics and schools of public administration, and members of civil society interested in both the substance and process of governance reform in the MENA region. Agreement has been reached around an initial core of eleven cases outlined below:

2. The Arab Public Administration Network (APAN)
With the objective of tapping into regional expertise, and providing a platform for the exchange of experiences, the Arab Public Administration Network was developed as a network of Arab senior government officials and academics concerned with public administration in the Arab region. The network meets regularly to exchange experiences and explore the potential for development and reform in the Arab public sector. The network also contributes and taps into the wealth of information accessible to it through the United Nations Public Administration Network.

3. Forums and Conferences
The Initiative organizes international, regional and national events with the objective of collecting and disseminating experiences in public sector development and reform. These forums and conferences are mostly organized in collaboration with internationally renowned partners such as the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), and the Kennedy School of Government’s Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University. The forums and conferences organized by the School provide senior Arab officials with the opportunity to assess new trends in public management and administration and their relevance to the regional context. They also provide a venue for the identification and development of new research concepts. 

4. Policy-based Research 
The Arab Public Management Research Initiative documents case studies from the experiences presented in its conferences and events, and through the APAN. In addition to their value as stand-alone documents which are disseminated internationally, these case studies also serve as important cornerstones for the identification and analysis of the factors affecting pubic sector growth, development and reform in the region. Partners within the APAN network, and participants in the policy forums also contribute and provide strategic direction to the Initiative’s research agenda.

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