The 21st Century Public Manager

Truly global in scope and ambition, the 21st Century Public Manager addresses key trends, challenges, and opportunities facing public managers across contexts and regimes. This accessible textbook aims to inspire public managers in rethinking their roles, skills, and values as they enter a VUCA world—one characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. It is written for aspiring and current public managers in graduate schools and executive education programs. This summary explains the 5 key characteristics of 21st century public managers.

Reviews 1, 2, 3 and 4


‘Van der Wal has delivered the book that many of us who work with public managers, both in the classroom and the boardroom, have been waiting for. He speaks directly to students of public management in this accessible, readable and dare we say it, inspirational book; a book that will become the text for those of us who strive to help public managers make sense of their world, and make a difference in it.’

Janine O’Flynn
University of Melbourne, Australia

‘The 21st Century Public Management provides an excellent overview of contemporary research and theory in public management and is more forward looking than any recent book on the topic. The author blends public management theory with theories from other relevant fields, in a manner that is not only intellectually satisfying but also accessible and relevant for the strategic public manager. This book should be in the collection of any serious public management scholar and will also be of great value to public management students and practitioners.’

Barry Bozeman
Arizona State University, USA

‘The 21st Century Public Manager arms students of public management with the insights to deal with the government of the future. It thoughtfully makes sense of the challenges of an interconnected world, like big data, and global crises. The result is a thoroughly modern and engaging reframing of the job for the public manager ready to serve a more knowledgeable and demanding public.’

Donald P. Moynihan
University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA