Public Administration vol:89 issue:1 pages:114-127
This paper asks, first, how have comparative publications (academic 'outputs') developed during the past three decades; second, what theories have been in play, and, third, how can we best explain the picture of comparative PA that is thus revealed? The trajectories of themes and theories are set within a wider story of the development of networks and academic communities. Changes in practitioner concerns and networks have had significant impacts on the evolution of the academic sub-field. Changes in ICTs - particularly the coming of the Internet and the growth of cheap air travel - have also had a pervasive influence. While there seems little prospect of convergence on any single theory or methodological approach, the vitality of comparative PA is nevertheless considerable. The volume, range and sophistication of publications have grown markedly since the late 1980s. Yet even if comparative studies are now mainstream, they remain hard to do well.