Public Administration Academies in Central Asia: 'Government puppets' or independent seats of learning

Saltanat Janenova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article provides a critical analysis of the development of public administration education in the context of five post-Soviet, transitional, and authoritarian Central Asian countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan from early independence to the present time (1991–2019). The study is based on a review of Master of Public Administration (MPA) programmes offered by Public Administration Academies in each of these five Central Asian countries, a focus group with local academics, extensive secondary data analysis, and critical reflections of a local scholar with six years of MPA teaching experience in a Kazakhstani university. This article highlights context-specific challenges in design and implementation of the MPA programmes in Central Asia. These challenges include the: ambiguous role of Public Administration Academies; programme design; pedagogical issues; and weak research capacity. It is argued that the MPA programmes in Central Asia often provide an example of ‘mimicry’ of European/North American programmes with peculiar features of their local context. Public Administration Academies in Central Asia are highly politicised and strongly controlled by authoritarian governments. This study will be of particular interest not only to public administration scholars from all post-Soviet countries which share the Soviet legacy and socio-economic challenges, but also for scholars teaching in other authoritarian contexts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTeaching Public Administration
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Central Asia
  • MPP
  • MPA


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