Comparative and International Policy

Comparative research is not to be taken up solely as an exotic academic exercise, but as a purposeful confrontation with different paths of development in  different physical, cultural locations,  and their complex outcomes and shortcomings. Often what unites diverse experiences and makes them comparable are the ideas and concepts that underpin them. Public service reform in South Africa in the 1990s, for example, was strongly informed by the set of ideas associated with New Public Management, which was influential in shaping reform initiatives around the world. Understanding and comparing the fortune of these ideas and practices in different contexts helps identify under what conditions they succeeded or failed and to determine whether the minimum conditions for success exist in the local environment. Looking globally and comparatively is a way of gaining new insights and lessons, to defining strategic directions and solutions. In this regard, we are interested and committed to deepening global and comparative reform on civil service reform, on managing migration, especially in other parts of Africa, on democratising the state by bringing key institutions under civilian and democratic control and on welfare reform, especially in the New South.

Project team