Book reviewPublic PolicySoutheast Asia

Issues in Malaysia’s public policy and administration: An Institutional Analysis

How does institutional quality dictate a bureaucracy’s ability to change? Should we see change as transformational? Or should we see change as incremental, one that takes place in small steps over time? Are institutional legacies great impediments to change? This is a newly released book that touches on various issues on Malaysia’s public policy and administration.

It is a novel attempt at using a new conceptual tool – institutionalism – to understand the various discussions on Malaysia’s public policy and administration. The authors give various reasons to writing this book. A primary one is to employ the institutional argument in dealing with issues of the Malaysian bureaucracy. The authors argue that rather than provide snapshots and observations of the different issues confronting the bureaucracy, the book examines the underlying institutional structures of the bureaucracy and its disposition to the idea of change. In examining the various policies and administrative issues of the Malaysian bureaucracy, the book provides various types of institutional change. The book puts across the idea that we need to reevaluate or reconfigure our idea of institutional change. The authors make the bold proposition that there is nothing mutually exclusive about continuity and change arguing that change and continuity can co-exist if we adopt the idea that change is slow or incremental in nature. Institutions might be seen as resilient and seemingly incapable of change, but if we examine institutions over the the long duree, institutions do change. The authors argue that institutions do change over time because they are not built or designed with perfect information. Also, actors who give meaning to institutions, tend to develop different expectations over time which then drives them to make institutional changes. While this book discusses on issues of the Malaysian bureaucracy, this manuscript would be of interest to those keen on working on the idea of institutions and change. For more on the book, you can visit this website .

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