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Purpose of the program

The Master in “Public Management” adopts an interdisciplinary approach that allows students to learn how Dynamic Performance Management can support collaborative governance, to manage ‘wicked’ social issues, so to pursue community resilience and sustainable outcomes. “Wicked” social problems characterize most of governmental planning, with a specific concern with social issues. They cannot be clustered within the boundaries of a single organization, or referred to specific administrative levels or ministerial areas. They are characterized by dynamic complexity, involving multi-level, multi-actor and multi-sectoral challenges.

They require coordination in policy design and implementation. Examples include: traffic congestion, societal aging, unemployment, youth disengagement, education, social cohesion, domestic violence, child abuse, crime, corruption, terrorism, poverty, migration flows of refugees, homelessness, climate change, and natural disasters. Such policy areas underlie a multitude of dynamic complex problems that today’s societies are expected to deal with, to pursue resilience and to improve quality of life. Failing to consider the dynamic complexity of such problems, involving (public, non-profit and private) policy makers increases the risk of policy resistance and of counterintuitive, unpredictable behavior of the systems that a public agency may try to affect through its own individual actions.

Such problems are usually ingrained in major social issues of modern life, and their interpretation is not univocal because it depends on the adopted value perspectives. Consequently, by simply gathering more information can be insufficient to understand and resolve them. Designing public policies to deal with ‘wicked’ issues usually implies that there is not a true or false solution to them. Both the different interests and mindsets of policy makers, service users and people belonging to a local community require that policies to deal with such problems should be designed and implemented based on a strategic learning process, focused on conflict resolution as well as dialogue among involved stakeholders. Also, intangibles (e.g. trust, relational and social capital, perceived levels of service, and other behavioral factors) play an important role in affecting policy outcomes for such issues. Even material and information delays may affect strongly the feedback structure underlying counterintuitive behavior of the key-variables profiling these problems.

To deal with these issues and to have an impact on community outcomes in a sustainable way, governmental reforms should make consistent three main sub-systems with each other, i.e.: 1) institutional/legislative systems and administrative rules, 2) organization structures/management systems at agency level, and 3) cultural systems, so that they may sustain the desired governance mode.