New Public Management: Current Trends and Future Prospects

By Kate McLaughlin; Stephen P. Osborne et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 14

New Public Management in developing countries

Willy McCourt

Introduction
In this chapter I will discuss the application of NPM in developing countries. After discussing problems of definition and setting out my working definition of NPM, I will discuss the difficulty that many of us have in defining NPM before moving on to discuss the developing country experience. In discussing that experience I will refer to some other features of public management in developing countries, especially the continuation of 'traditional' public administration and the application of what I shall call the 'Washington model' of civil service reform. After making some tentative comments on the political context in which NPM is applied, I conclude with a discussion of the prospects of applying NPM on a wider scale. I draw in this chapter on several chapters in The Internationalization of Public Management: Reinventing the Third World State (McCourt and Minogue 2001). Its chapters are written by British-based scholars, several of them colleagues of mine at the Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM) in Manchester.
Working definition of NPM
In the face of some sceptical commentators, there is broad agreement among the contributors to this book that something called NPM does actually exist. The fact, however, that most of us have felt the need to spend time establishing a definition suggests that we need an agreed definition of NPM: we will talk past each other if we all talk about different things. A definition of NPM, I think, should be:
• Prescriptive, taking account of exhortatory, 'guru' models of public management.
• Descriptive, taking account of what has actually happened.
• Theoretical, specifying links with social sciences theory, notably public choice and agency theory in economics.
• Political, recognizing that any model of public management necessarily has a political dimension.

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