Towards a Global Polity

By Morten Ougaard; Richard Higgott | Go to book overview

5

Discursive globalization

Transnational discourse communities and New Public Management

Hans Krause Hansen, Dorte Salskov-Iversen and Sven Bislev

[T]he cities of the 'International Network for better Local Government' see themselves as national and international mediators and multipliers in the reform process in local governments.

(www.stiftung.bertelsmann.de/english/projekte/bereiche/refkommv2000)


Introduction

A discourse of management - usually referred to as New Public Management (NPM) - has arrived on the public sector scene, with noticeable consequences for its organization and institutionalization. This chapter sets out to investigate an important vehicle for the generation and dissemination of this discourse: the transnational discourse communities (TDCs) concerned with public sector reform.

As globalization is believed to change the roles and situations of the nation-states, and thereby to establish new premises for the operation of public sector organizations, these TDCs recommend the introduction of management practices, with a specific view to making the public sector more efficient and responsive. NPM presupposes subordination of traditional, legally oriented principles of the public sector to new, more pragmatic values (Hood 1998; Salskov-Iversen et al. 2000). And it is evidently part of a global trend that brings market mechanisms into spheres of society not hitherto permeated by the market rationality, such as the personal sphere, the family and the public and voluntary sectors. In the public sector, this process does not imply the unravelling of regulation as such, but the implementation of new forms of regulation reflecting new societal realities - reflexivity and risk (Beck 1992), the global multiplication of organizational forms (Pieterse 1995), flexible accumulation and global specialization (Harvey 1990).

NPM is one such form of regulation. It resembles 'public administration' in that it aims at the organized, governed disposition of resources. But where 'administration' is tied to public bureaucracy, public sector values and rule-based organizational technologies, 'management' is based

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