An informal network among higher education institutions called the Public Adminstration Lecturer's Association existed in the seventies and eighties in South Africa. This organisation functioned haphazardly and was disbanded in the early nineties. This left the academic Public Administration community largely voiceless and without an institutional base for a few years. In 1996 a workshop on "Transforming Training in the Public Sector" was organised for scholars in this field in Midrand with the support of the National Business Initiative (NBI). One of the resolutions of this workshop was the creation of a Steering Committee to establish an association with the broad aim of promoting excellence in public service education and training.

This committee received financial support from the South African Foundation of Public Management (SAFPUM), via the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). After a participatory and consultative process the committee recommended that a formal association to promote the interests of the disciplines of Public Administration, Public Management and Development Management should be established. Three more years passed during which funds were sought to establish the association. At the Mount Grace 2 conference in 1999 the need for the establishment of the association was confirmed by representatives of most institutions in these fields. With the support of the Joint Universities Public Management Education Trust, JUPMET, this eventually culminated into the establishment of ASSADPAM during the University of Stellenbosch’s Winelands Conference on Thursday 13 September 2001 in Stellenbosch. ASSADPAM was formally constituted during a meeting in Bellville on 8 February 2002.

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