Public Management

Online ISSN: 1470-1065
Print ISSN: 1461-667X
This article highlights the importance of taking a gendered perspective for the understanding of new public management and the restructuring of public services. Significant changes have taken place in the management structure and processes of public sectororganizations throughout the decade, with workforces being redefined and reconstituted. Relatively little research work has examined the gendered implications of such change and the way in which processes of redefinition are negotiated, accepted or resisted by male and female professionals. A conceptual framework for future research is presented which is informed by three separate research literatures: the feminization thesis, developments in HRM and marketization and managerialism. The article concludes by emphasizing the importance of a more inclusive and gendered view of restructuring agendas. A theoretical framework is proposed that accommodates difference and agency in the restructuring process as a way forward in analysing public sector change.
In the UK the policy shift from Compulsory Competitive Tendering to Best Value marks a transition away from a model of public service delivery governed primarily by principles of competition and efficiency towards one which incorporates principles of trust, partnership and public service quality. This article explores a facet of the new Best Value framework – the need to demonstrate continuous improvement of service delivery via meaningful comparisons with like service providers. The findings are based on a case study of a local authority benchmarking group for leisure services set up in response to the Best Value regime. Despite the difficulties associated with benchmarking the evidence suggests that, in a collaborative rather than a competitive or defensive benchmarking setting, it should be an effective way of delivering continuous improvement in service 'processes'– bothin terms ofcostreduction and service quality enhancement for direct users. Benchmarkers must, however, address intra-organizational issues in order to ensure learning is implemented. It appears less likely that improvements in meeting the needs of 'customers' who are non-users can be delivered using this tool since disparities here may emanate more from policy and funding gaps than from operational planning and control gaps.
The rapidly changing external environment is having major implications for the role of NGOs, their sources of funding, the nature of their relationships and their activities. Globalization, the increasingly multinational nature of business and electronic communication, has caused a parallel reduction in the powers of the nation state to affect development and a rise in the powers of the business community. NGOs need to engage with the private sector in new ways. INTRAC's own ongoing monitoring of the NGO sector suggests that an analysis of these issues would be of great value to NGOs and the private sector as they grapple with possible new modes of engagement in their quest to have a positive impact on justice, peace and poverty alleviation. Relations have moved beyond the purely philanthropic, with corporations giving money to good causes, and the highly antagonistic, with organizations protesting a company's operations, to a situation where the two sectors often work in partnership to address core business issues such as environmental management, product development and ethical sourcing. There has been an explosion in these forms of partnership between business and NGOs. This raises many issues for strategies and tactics to be followed by NGO management. As such this research is of key strategic importance to NGOs and the private sector.
The Best Value regime, which is being introduced in the UK from April 2000, is rooted in the 'new public management' paradigm but also seeks to move beyond it. Like compulsory competitive tendering (CCT) which preceded it, the Best Value framework stresses the role of markets and performance management systems in the provision of public services. However, it appears to offer more scope for local flexibility, and has therefore enjoyed a much higher level of support among local policy makers. There is though evidence that many in local government have not yet grasped the scale of the improvements in local services that ministers are expecting, and the extent to which this will require changes in existing structures and processes. The result is likely to be an increasingly differentiated pattern of service provision and, in an era of 'evidence policy making', researchers are likely to be called upon to develop methodologies which allow evaluation of the alternative models of service provision that begin to emerge.
The article describes recent development in the Swedish local government system. This is made through four different 'organizing perspectives'. Three organizing perspectives challenge the model of local popular government. The functional challenge focuses on the market orientation, which means that nearly all sorts of public activities should be put on the market according to the belief that competition is the most important motor of public economy. The communitarian challenge focuses on the social and political order of user and citizen organizations in relation to the municipal organization, which can be viewed in terms of the relation between small-scale democracy and the large-scale democracy. Finally, the idea of governance structures focuses on how to mobilize and integrate different types of resources across borders within the public sector and between public and private institutions. By using the different organizing perspectives it is shown that the development of local politics and democracy is driven by different ideas. Experiences from reforms, which are related to these ideas, are presented. The article concludes by pointing out some important challenges for future development of local democracy in Sweden.
The conditions under which governing takes place in most developed industrialized countries have more or less been changing during the last decade. Competition is seen as an important force to increase capacities for problem-solving and for creating opportunities as part of good governance. But the emphasis on competition provokes questions. 'Are there any limits to competition?' and if there are limits 'What are the limits to competition like?'. In this article the objectives of competition in the public sector will be discussed and the range of different types of competition will be classified (including models of internal market competition and non-marketed forms of competition). Based on data from empirical research projects on competition at the local level in Britain and Germany the article will provide some experiences with competition and some effects of competition (especially on costs, service quality, fragmentation, market structure, trust and empowerment). Limits of competition in the public sector will be discussed with special regard to the peculiarities of politicoadministrative decision making. The way competition is politically managed is regarded as a very important cornerstone for good governance of public services.
This article reports the findings from an in-depth investigation of a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) project to replace a local authority high school. Through a combination of participant observation, semi-structured interviewing and document review, the research seeks to establish whether the belief that the PFI will result in cost-effective innovative design and operation and maintenance cost savings is justified. The findings suggest little evidence of innovation on the part of the private sector. This observation has implications for the comparative cost of the PFI vis-à-vis traditional public sector procurement, given that innovation (on the part of the private sector) is believed to be one of the key drivers of cost savings. In addition the article makes recommendations with regard to best practice in management and completion of PFI projects with reference to issues around consultation, planning, finance and service delivery.
Diverse recent literatures on 'the hollow state', 'deliberative democracy' and 'governing without government' are largely concerned with the workings of politics and public management under socio-political conditions of indeterminacy and fragmentation that are variously described as characteristics of high or late modernity (Giddens 1991) or, as some prefer to put it, of postmodernity (Fox and Miller 1995). This article, which reflects the author's interest in interdisciplinary forms of post-postmodern analysis that draw upon political science and sociology and social theory as well as administrative studies, examines a number of conceptual and empirical topics that, it is argued, are relevant to exploration of the thesis that postnational social milieux are steered via new forms of societal-cum-political governance that have largely replaced governmental institutions and processes of the kind associated with classical notions of the state, public administration and liberal democracy.
This paper assesses our state of knowledge concerning the ‘New Public Management’ (NPM) reforms which seem to have been launched in so many countries. In the first section it appraises the types of materials available as a basis for such an assessment. It then considers, and rejects, the thesis that, because of the improved performance they bring, these reforms are global in reach and inevitable in nature. Subsequently, the main part of the paper assesses the available evidence with respect to a number of key dimensions of reform impacts. It concludes that, while there is evidence of specific improvements in particular instances, the general case for NPM as a solution to diverse problems of governance in many different countries is far less firmly established than is commonly supposed.
The promise of a reinvigorated local government that many believed was imminent following the UK election of New Labour in 1997 was not immediately realized. Central government has made clear that local authorities have opportunities to enhance their role only if they meet its expectations. The messages emanating from central government have been complicated and at times contradictory. Local authorities must develop innovative ways of working in a multi-agency context, while also meeting central government's prescriptive results-based agenda. The opportunities and threats arising from the tensions evident in central government's policies towards local authorities have profound implications for UK intergovernmental management. Taking account of parallel developments in some other European countries, and applying associated developing theory, this article examines how far English local authorities are adapting to a networking environment and the extent to which they nonetheless operate within an 'action space' defined and predetermined by central government.
In this article we address the elaboration of the central concepts of a theory of networks and of network management. We suggest that the network approach builds on several theoretical traditions. After this we clarify the theoretical concepts and axioms of the policy network approach and argue that this framework has important explanatory power both on the level of strategic interaction processes as well as on the level of institutional relations. We argue that government’s special resources and its unique legitimacy as representative of the common interest make it the outstanding candidate for fulfilling the role of network manager, a role which means arranging and facilitating interaction processes within networks in such a way that problems of under or non representation are properly addressed and interests are articulated and dealt with in an open, transparent and balanced manner.
Faced with declining civic trust on the one hand and increasing fiscal stringency on the other, many governments have issued policies to encourage volunteering, or to mandate departments and agencies to recruit and involve volunteers in their work. Little research has been undertaken to follow up on these initiatives. This article reports the results of a study comparing two health and social service trusts in Northern Ireland with respect to their response to governmental policies to incorporate volunteers into the provision of health and social service care. The study examines the priority accorded by the trusts to the implementation of these policies; the support they give to volunteer administration and management and the missing links in this process. A central theme of the study is the role played by the volunteer co-ordinator in promoting and sustaining a volunteer programme in the trust. The article first examines the policy context for volunteering in Northern Ireland and indicates how policy was implemented in the health and social service trusts. The article then turns to the research design and methodology used in the study. Following a presentation of the findings, the article concludes with a discussion of the findings and their implications for research and practice in the implementation of statutory volunteer policy.
Every so often, members of a profession look inward, asking themselves such questions as these: • What are the enduring qualities that anchor our profession? • How are we changing and what is driving the change? • How do the enduring elements and contemporary changes affect our understanding,first, of who we are as professionals and, second, of what value we add to society? The fact that professionals engage with these questions helps their professions to assert their sense of worth, to foster their members’ continuing commitment, and to convey to others the value of their work. This last point—conveying to others the value of a profession—is crucial to that profession’s legitimacy, which is rooted in external judgments. Legitimacy itself leads to the respect, trust, and discretion needed to do good work without inordinate supervision.
It has been acknowledges for a long time that city and county managers play a prominent role in policy making. It can be no other way. Managers set the council’s agenda, for example, by calling the governing body’s attention infrastructure issues of which it would not otherwise be aware. They develop alternatives for the council, and they make policy recommendations. This is expected of them, and they do it well. These administrative activities support the councils policy-making responsibility and its problem-solving capacity. Over time, local government professionals have effectively integrated this influential policy role with the sober, analytical, politically neutral foundation of their profession. But what happens when the manager is expected simultaneously to lead staff in an objective analysis of a complex project and to build political support for it? A case-study format is ideally suited to describing both the context and some ways of thinking about the role confusions produced when a local government manager is thrust into a political role. To address the question “What happens to a politically neutral chief administrative officer when expected to act politically?” I analyzed scholarly research, examined documents, read newspaper accounts, and interviewed several public servants, including Dennis Hays, chief administrative officer of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas (KCK).
In a previous article, we outlined two contemporary trends – community building and modernizing of the organization – that affect the work of local government professionals. In that article, we also identified some approaches to dealing effectively with the problems of these trends. In this follow-up article, we propose some competencies that contemporary local government managers will need in order to meet their responsibilities and roles in this new world successfully.
For years, we who are involved in local government have treated citizen engagement as an option to enhance policymaking and community building in local government. I would argue that now engagement no longer is an option; it is imperative. It is made mandatory by the challenging and often confusing context of contemporary local governance, increasingly characterized by the ad hoc presence of foundations, nongovernmental organizations, private firms, and other nongovernmental actors in processes and decisions that significantly affect community development and well-being. If we are to anticipate effectively and plan for coherence in community building as an overarching goal of professionalism in local government, we must find a way to channel toward the collective good the diversity of actors, their energy, and their collaborative minds. One way to do this is through a significant commitment and more systematic approach to planned citizen engagement. To understand the role of engagement, first we must distinguish two types. The initial form is spontaneous. This is the expression of citizenship that local government professionals have grown to expect and often dismiss as emotion driven, self-interested, and influence yielding. Planned engagement, an alternative form, has taken time to reach a place of legitimacy in the administrative arsenal in part, I would maintain, because we lump all engagement under the same rubric—the one we would prefer to avoid! But we must realize that planned engagement is different. It leads to an expression of the rational community mind as it deals with issues of community importance, as a balance to the emotion that comes from the heart in spontaneous engagement.
Increasingly, I hear local government managers talk disparagingly and with frustration about the councilmembers they work for. I also observe elected officials thrusting managers into the policy lime-light – either in response to council ineptness or through a conscious choice. These trends challenge the viability of democracy in a professionally administered local government – a form of government whose rationale is deeply embedded in a healthy respect for politics and in the belief that in some increasingly indistinct yet fundamental way there is a difference between politics and administration. These observations lead me to the following conclusions: 1. Legislative bodies do not fully perform their legitimate role of allocating values because issues coming before them are more complex, conflictive, and ambiguous than ever before. 2. Managers play an increasingly political role in professional local government in response to the abdication or ineptness of political leadership by elected leaders. 3. Despite the need for political leadership and the ideal position the manager is in to fill this void, democracy suffers as legislative oversight is weakened. 4. While we cannot expect to see councils regaining the legislative oversight the Progressives idealized during the reform movement, we are seeing a democratization of administration that is legitimizing the political role of the administrator.
Partnerships increasingly play a major role in determining and implementing major policy drives in localities. Understanding how they may provide value is therefore essential to understanding modern governance principles. This article describes action research aiming to develop a conceptualization of factors inherent in collaborative forms and, hence, about their practicality as governance tools. Different interpretations of what collaborative governance is intended to achieve are first reviewed. Two areas that seriously affect the ability of collaborations to deliver their potential, structural complexity and diversity are then reviewed. The article concludes by considering what is needed to make collaborative governance work.
Preparing for a senior management position is of course the responsibility of the aspiring manager. Top executives in the local government organization, however, can provide specific support and a structure for developing talent. This article describes the best practices of city and county managers who have focused on their developmental role in preparing the next generation. Although each senior manager is unique, and though organizations are of different sizes and have different capacities, traditions, and cultures, the following 39-point menu offers choices for every senior manager. Top executives in local government can provide support and a structure for developing talent. Personal Outlook Specific practices, programs, and other efforts to groom up-and-comers flow from positive attitudes: 1. Acknowledge that the profession as a whole and your own organization in particular need to secure replacement talent for top positions. City and county managers and other senior managers need to educate themselves on this quiet crisis. 2. Recognize talent development as a primary role, of equal importance to other executive management tasks. If the longer-term developmental role is not a primary responsibility, it will get shoved aside by urgent, shorter-term challenges. But if something is believed important, it will occupy time and attention—an executive's most significant resources. 3. Understand that the chief executive is first and foremost a role model. The most powerful way in which adults, as well as children, learn is through the modeling of behavior. Managers must therefore recognize that their every action will be observed by subordinates and will serve—for better or worse—to shape their successors' attitudes and behaviors. 4. Develop a more risk-taking attitude. Many senior managers are risk-averse, but managers who consciously develop talent must be open to mistakes. Managers should encourage up-and-comers to stretch, take on new roles, and make mistakes—even visible ones. Learning and growth occur after missteps, even failures.
Top-cited authors
Dmytro Samofalov
  • Odessa National Medical University
Matthew R. Fairholm
  • University of South Dakota