Policy Implementation Networks: The Impact of Economic Development on New Public Management

Article excerpt

Abstract

Public policy implementation in the 21st Century often involves a complex web or delivery network that minimizes traditional direct service methods employed by governmental entities. These new delivery systems helped create New Public Management (NPM), a managerial approach significantly different from conventional public administration. The intellectual debate on NPM often lacks a systematic examination of its specific tools and techniques. This paper examines the roots of New Public Management instruments, demonstrating that shifts in intergovernmental relations (IGR) altered the mechanisms and processes of public service delivery, creating new approaches and tools for administrators to implement public policy. Citing programmatic changes in the delivery of economic development policy in one state as evidence of this shift, this paper shows the links between new implementation approaches and many New Public Management tools.

Introduction

The process of implementing public policy has changed, especially in domestic areas like economic development. Beginning in mid 1970s the delivery of large portions of domestic public policy gradually ceased being the exclusive and direct responsibility of employees on the government payroll. Instead, by the 21st Century, public service delivery often occurs in an indirect manner. Implementation in many cases, then, involves a collaborative effort linking public, private and non-profit organizations in a complex web that minimizes the use of direct service delivery methods by public or governmental entities (Anton, 1989; Kettl, 1993; Salamon, 1989). These collaborations and partnerships not only altered the basic structure of and approaches to implementation, they created new and complicated delivery mechanisms consisting of intersectoral networks often managed by public administrators.

This paper reviews the emergence of these new public service delivery mechanisms and systems and examines their links to the rise of New Public Management (NPM), a loosely connected set of methods with an over arching general philosophy that significantly departs from conventional public administration. Using evidence from the changing implementation of economic development (ED) policy, citing examples from one state's experience in this transformation, and employing concepts from the policy tools literature, this paper shows that shifts in the dynamics of intergovernmental relations (IGR) helped alter the formulation and subsequent delivery of many domestic policy areas, therefore contributing to the use of many of the delivery mechanisms associated with New Public Management. This paper argues, then, that NPM emerged and grew in part because of changes in the role of government in the implementation of domestic public policies like economic development.

New Public Management and Policy Tools

New Public Management generally emphasizes competition in the public sector, using corporate-like management methods and administrative structures that focus on quantitative performance measures (especially outputs) to improve the efficiency of public services and reduce budgets. Called by some a global reform movement in public administration, NPM strives to increase management autonomy by replacing bureaucratic rigidity with market-like competition (Kettl, 1997: p. 447; Lynn, 1998: p. 231).

While the specific mechanisms of the NPM approach often seems to be only briefly discussed by researchers and commentators, a review of the literature reveals that practitioners of NPM appear to employ a wide-range of administrative processes that blend public and private resources and processes in the implementation of public policy, including public-private cooperative arrangements and networks, strategic planning and management techniques, outsourcing and privatization of public services, and nonprofit service delivery organizations (Nagel, 1997: p. …