The New Public Management in Action

The New Public Management in Action

The New Public Management in Action

The New Public Management in Action


This book analyses changes which have occurred in the organization and management of the UK public services over the last 15 years, looking particularly at the restructured NHS. The authors present an up to date analysis around three main themes: 1. the transfer of private sector models to the public sector 2. the management of change in the public sector 3. management reorganization and role change In doing so they examine to what extent a New Public Management has emerged and ask whether this is a parochial UK development or of wider international significance. This is a topical and important issue in management training, professional and policy circles. Important analytic themes include: an analysis of the nature of the change process in the UK public services: characterisation of quasi markets; the changing role of local Boards and possible adaptation by professional groupings. The book also addresses the important and controversial question of accountability, and contributes to the development of a general theory of the New Public Management.


In the 1980s the organization and management of the uk public services came under sustained top-down pressure for change. As a result the well-established organizational paradigms of the public corporation and of the large-scale, standardized, and professionalized Welfare State agency were challenged, as new organizational forms, roles, and cultures emerged. With the benefit of hindsight, it became apparent that these old-style public sector organizations had also possessed the virtues of their vices, with an emphasis on due process, equity of treatment, probity, and accountability.

As similar restructurings proceeded in a large number of different public service settings, so it became clear that a broadly based organizational phenomenon was emerging, now often labelled as the rise of the 'new public management'. While there are a number of studies of particular settings available (see Metcalfe andRichards (1990) for a discussion of change in the higher Civil Service; Pettigrew,Ferlie, andMcKee (1992) for change in health care), the new public management has until very recently remained under- analysed as a more general phenomenon. Critical accounts are emerging from scholars trained in the public administration or political science traditions (Pollitt 1990; Hood 1991; Dunleavy andHood 1994). Organization theorists, by contrast, were in general slow to recognize the significance of the new public management movement (but see Hoggett 1991).

This lack of interest relates to the academic division of labour. the study of public sector organizations has often been left to scholars of public administration while Business School academics usually have privileged the study of private firms. This is surprising given the central role that not-for-profit organizations such as hospitals, universities, and voluntary associations have historically played in the development of organization theory (e.g. the use of universities as a site for the development of the theory of 'loosely coupled organizations': see Cohen andMarch 1974).

However, we argue that public sector settings remain important sites for . . .

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