Reflections on the ANZSOG series from its contributors

23 June 2021

The final book in the ANZSOG series published this month, so we asked some of the editors and contributors across its long history to contribute some of their thoughts on its impact over the years. Join us as we reflect and celebrate the 56 titles that have published since 2006, and the invaluable contribution the series has made to the field of public policy and administration.

Andrew Podger

It is fitting that the final book in ANU Press’s series for the Australia and New Zealand School of Government commemorates the work of Emeritus Professor John Wanna who initiated the series, edited so many of the books and fostered all 56 publications since 2006. The series has experienced several million downloads, demonstrating its value to both academics and practitioners in Australia and internationally.

Politics, Policy and Public Administration, edited by Andrew Podger, Michael de Percy and Sam Vincent, is a compilation of papers by fellow academics, practitioners and students addressing issues that have interested Wanna over the last four decades: budgeting and financial management, politics, public policy and public administration. They highlight his determination to link research and practice, and his international as well as Australian interests and influence. Importantly the authors— including Stein Helgeby, Evert Lindquist, Rod Rhodes, Hon Chan, Peter Shergold, John Halligan as well as Andrew Podger— build on his work offering new and updated insights addressing more recent developments.

The previous 55 books cover an even broader range of issues, including management and technical aspects of public administration that are highly relevant to practitioners such as contracting, cost–benefit analysis, collaborating with the third sector, senior executive development, and measuring wellbeing. Policy advising and policy development have been the focus of at least half a dozen books, including Learning Policy, Doing Policy, edited by Trish Mercer, Russell Ayres, Brian Head and John Wanna, which was launched by Glyn Davis on 16 June 2021. The emphasis on usefulness to practitioners has never been at the expense of academic standing—the books and the articles they contain are regularly cited by scholars both in Australia and overseas.

I am disappointed the series is not going to continue. We can only hope that the Crawford School's series of ANU Press books will in future include ones on public administration that address issues relevant to practitioners, and that ANZSOG will lend its support.

David Gilchrist

The ability of academics to get their messages out is critical to not only their success as thinkers and change agents, but also to the success of the university system in this country as a whole. To be able to develop and publish extended discourses relating to myriad topics on the public sector, its efficiency and effectiveness, is fundamental to this drive. As such, the service provided by ANU Press and Professor Wanna in establishing and driving the ANZSOG series has been to the national advantage.

My personal experience as an author supported by this series has been significant and, I think, the success that my colleagues and I have enjoyed has been in no small part a result of the comprehensive approach taken in supporting ideas development by the press. This approach includes planning, clarity of purpose and effective focus as well as with regard to support and feedback.

Without doubt, the ANZSOG series has contributed greatly to facilitating and supporting important academic research that impacts everyone, not just those in the academic world.

John Butcher

In mid-2006 I was hired by John Wanna as a part-time research assistant; however, it soon became apparent that my principal role was to manage the production of the about-to-be launched ANZSOG Monograph Series, to be published by the recently established ANU E-Press (as it then was). John already had a handful of manuscripts, in various stages of completion, and it was my job to get them across the line. This required me to wear a number of hats, including editor, copyeditor, desktop publisher, graphic designer, ‘author wrangler’ and, sometimes, contributor. Prospective authors often baulked at the notion of an e-press—this was, at the time, entirely new territory—and it sometimes took a bit of persuading to encourage authors to see that the e-press model greatly expanded the reach and impact of their work. By the time I passed the baton in 2010, we had published 24 titles and in 2016 and in 2020 I added two titles of my own. The publication of Politics, Policy and Public Administration in Theory and Practice, Essays in Honour of Professor John Wanna, brings the total number of titles in this series to 56. John aimed to create a series of monographs covering diverse topics relevant to Australian policy and public administration that would be of interest and relevance to both academic and practitioner audiences while remaining firmly grounded in sound scholarship. This was in many ways a magnificent endeavour and it is my firm view that John’s original vision has been fully realised.

Paul ‘t Hart

The ANZSOG series has been a landmark and trail-blazing contribution to the study and the practice of public administration, public policy and public management in Australia and New Zealand. Covering a wide range of topics—the arts, indigenous affairs, public finance, leadership, federalism, digitalisation and e-government, public value management, valedictory speeches of department secretaries, major policy reforms, policy successes and failures, the not-for-profit sector—the list is impressive, and written by both senior and emerging academics as well as reflective practitioners. These open-access monographs and volumes are an absolute treasure trove for anyone interested in government and the public sector in our two countries. The series has attracted great interest and some of the books have downloaded tens of thousands of times. As series editor, John Wanna has been the chief curator of this remarkable venture, and we owe him boundless gratitude for it.