International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration - Vol. 2

By Jay M. Shafritz | Go to book overview

public agencies has been dominated by the influence of interest groups, public sector managers have been unrestrained empire builders, and the public sector itself has been allowed to become flabby and wasteful in the absence of market discipline.

Such has been the force of these claims that the traditional model has been progressively replaced in the U.S., Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and elsewhere with new models of public management. In the process, the introduction of corporate planning techniques, including the establishment of clear, measurable, output-based objectives for public sector agencies and their staff, has led to a much more precise measurement of both the agency's and the individual's performance.

This contemporary focus on efficiency has tended to overshadow other performance criteria-such as economy, effectiveness, and equity-with which efficiency is now sometimes erroneously confused. For example, an organization may be economical in its use of resources but not efficient if the sole emphasis is upon reducing costs; it may be efficient, according to the ratio of inputs to outputs, but if the outcome of its activity is a failure to realize its goals then it is not effective; and what may be deemed efficient for an agency's operation may not necessarily lead to equitable, or fair, outcomes for those the agency exists to serve.

These distinctions are at the heart of much of the debate about the new models of public management. It is claimed by some that there is now too much emphasis on monitoring and measurement of quantifiable and/or tangible outputs and too little emphasis on qualitative and/or intangible outcomes-that is to say, too much concern for efficiency at the expense of effectiveness. In the process, efficiency has in a practical sense become almost indistinguishable from economy. Efficiency is thus associated with such trends as cost-cutting, downsizing, productivity savings, benchmarking, outsourcing, privatization and, by its critics, with the marginalizing of less easily measured social costs that are defined as "externalities" ( Mintzberg 1989).

Critics of these trends argue that efficiency alone is essentially a limited value, a view acknowledged even by the proponents of new forms of public management. As Vice President Al Gore stated in his Report of the National Performance Review( 1993), "Our goal is . . . not simply to produce a more efficient government, but to create a more effective government. After all, Americans don't want a government that fails more efficiently. They want a government that works" (p. 8).



Gore, Al, 1993. From Red Tape to Results: Report of the National Performance Review. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.

Hughes, Owen E., 1994. Public Management and Administration: An Introduction. London, UK: Macmillan.

Mintzberg, Henry, 1989. Mintzberg on Management: Inside Our Strange World of Organization. New York: The Free Press.

Pollitt, Christopher, 1993. Managerialism and the Public Services. 2d ed. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

Report on the Organisation of the Permanent Civil Service, 1854 (The Northcote-Trevelyan Report). London: HMSO.

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT. The processes of preparing for, preventing, or lessening the effects of, responding to, and recovering from natural and human disasters.

Emergency management is a relatively new professional specialization and a field of study which is receiving increased attention from government officials, policy analysts, and public administration educators. The growing interest in emergency management is easy to understand. Devastating earthquakes, typhoons, volcanic eruptions, epidemics, wars, and other disasters present government leaders with important challenges and opportunities. Failure to respond effectively can have serious political repercussions, while success can enhance prestige and power and lend legitimacy to the government.

While the modern media have drawn attention to the function of emergency management, the role of emergency managers in preparing for and responding to disasters and in assisting communities during recovery efforts in the aftermath of disaster is as old as the institution of government itself. Procedures for responding to disaster have been common in most societies, although they were most often ad hoc or reliant upon social organizations such as churches and civic groups. Emergency management was initially focused on disaster response. The recognition that catastrophic disasters might be averted or at least lessened through broader government programs and that environmental hazards can be managed has been a recent development. For example, government regulation of building standards, most notably requirements that city structures be built of stone or brick rather than flammable wood and be situated away from flood-prone areas, is only a few centuries old.

In the United States, with a few exceptions such as firefighting in urban areas and forests, programs to address hazards and respond to disasters were almost unknown prior to World War II. Disaster relief or recovery in the U.S. was largely the province of charitable and religious institutions. Just as communities relied on church and nonprofit organizations to provide social services for the poor, infirm, and homeless, they relied on those same organizations to respond to minor and major disasters and to assist disaster victims. In many respects, as a matter of public policy. American communities still rely very heavily on organizations such as the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. The Red Cross remains the principal source of aid to


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