This chapter considers issues of research methods in the study of the NPM as seen from the discipline of organizational studies. Organizational studies is only one of a number of social science disciplines which have an interest in this field (economics; political science and sociology all represent important other strands) but it does have a distinctive contribution to make in the study of the NPM.
This is because an important theme within the NPM has been macro-level change to the form and functioning of public agencies. These changes have moved the characteristic public sector organization away from the old public administration template (the vertically integrated bureaucracy with accountability to Parliament but often also with dominant professional groups) towards more managerialized and marketized forms, more strongly influenced by private sector modes of organization. The contemporary public sector is organized in very different ways from twenty years ago.
For example, there are a number of significant shifts in organizational form. We have seen the privatization of the old Morrisonian public corporation in the field of economic policy. There has been a transition to new forms of private firms with strong shareholder rights, moderated by new regulatory regimes. Within the field of social policy (where privatization has proceeded at a much more moderate pace), there has been the introduction of the purchaser/provider split based on contracting rather than hierarchy; the creation of novel purchasing agencies which are both small and strategic; the development of new provider organizations with at least some devolved powers for example 'Next Steps' Agencies and NHS Trusts. We have also seen the downsizing and delayering of traditionally large scale public sector organizations exemplified by Regional Health Authorities and some central Whitehall departments, with the outsourcing and market testing of peripheral functions.
There have been important changes to organizational systems within the public sector, as well as structures. At the most general level, increasing political and public distrust of the behaviour of public sector providers has resulted in a shift from tacit systems of self-regulation to explicit systems of external regulation. Concern has been fuelled by a number of high profile scandals (Redfern 2001) which suggest that traditional patterns of professional self-