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About the New Synthesis
Public Governance International > The New Synthesis Initiative > About the New Synthesis

What is the New Synthesis of Public Administration?

The New Synthesis Initiative is the flagship project of PGI. It was launched in 2007 by the Honorable Jocelyne Bourgon. It is still ongoing today. It is a collaborative international research project launched for the purpose of exploring the new frontiers of public administration and to provide practitioners with a theoretical mental map adapted to the complexity of the world we live in and the circular nature of life on this planet.

How did it come about?

The NS Initiative was developed in partnership with distinguished academics from a variety of disciplines and senior public sector leaders from countries with different governing systems operating in different contexts, cultures and circumstances.

NS is a collaborative effort aimed at bridging the widening gap between theory and practice by seeking insights from multiple disciplines, and testing ideas in a diversity of environments. This blended approach is a trade-mark of the New Synthesis Initiative.

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Why do we need a New Synthesis?

Public administration has been lacking a “Synthesis” to integrate past practices of enduring value with new ones better aligned to the challenges of serving in a global, hyper-connected world, in the midst of a technological revolution, with high uncertainty and on an increasingly fragile biosphere.

A different way of thinking and a different approach to problem solving are needed to invent solutions to the increasingly complex problems that we experience collectively.

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What difference does NS make?

Governments are called upon to steer their society though an unprecedented and accelerating process of change. They must build the capacity of society to adapt to a fast-changing landscape and prosper in yet unforeseen circumstances.

The NS Initiative proposes a conceptual framework that brings together the role of government, citizens and society in a dynamic and interactive system. The NS Framework:

  • Brings special attention to enhancing society’s resilience and adaptive capacity
  • Encourages system thinking and collective problem solving.
  • Expands the range of options open to government.
  • Improves the likelihood of success of government actions and interventions

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Reflecting on the National Public Service Week of Canada, PGI has dug deep into our archives to share the first-ever digital Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada. The Sixth Annual Report was Madame Bourgon’s final report to the Prime Minister of Canada as she was preparing to move on from her role as the first female Clerk of the Privy Council. Her final report is reflective of her esteemed tenure as Clerk, one that continuously pushed boundaries and guided the Public Service of Canada through an unprecedented period of change to prepare for the challenges of the 21st century.