|aRGOV FELLOWSHIP | |The Political Implications of NPM | |Public Sector Reforms | |Prof. Moshe Maor | | | | | |23/12/2012 |
|By Michal Bar, 036542272 |
The New Public Management (NPM) is based on economics and private management (Huges, 2003). The basic hypothesis holds that market oriented management of the public sector will lead to greater cost-efficiency for governments, without having negative side-effects on other objectives and considerations. However, as I shall discuss below, NPM is not merely a ‘technical’, administrative reform but has an important political dimension that needs to be discussed.
In order to increase utility NPM was trying to adopt “proven” private sector-styles of management (Hood, 1995, in Rommel, 2004). Probably the most important point derived from private sector managerial practices is the focus on objectives (Huges, 2003) implement other techniques as contracting-out, public-private partnerships, citizen participation, budgeting and accounting reforms, separation between service provision and service production, budget cuts and strategic planning (Pollitt, 2003). Opposed to the Traditional public administration which attached great importance to values such as the pursuit of honesty, fairness and mutuality based on preventing corruption law and politics (Lynn, 2001), NPM however cultivates economic norms and values, focused on efficiency, economy and parsimony. Introducing more economically oriented instruments these values claim to cut costs and doing more for less, by improving the quality of management and introducing new structural designs (Hood, 1991, in Rommel, 2004). These 'new' values have been strongly criticized as NPM undermines the traditional public service ethos (Goodsell, 1993). NPM has challenged the very distinctiveness of public service, “including its service norms such as impartiality and openness, its principles such as equality and representation, its monopolistic and complex nature, and it's longer and broader social impacts” (Haque, 2001, p. 66). On the other hand, Hood (1991) asserts that there is no a priori conflict between traditional values and NPM and that these conflicts remain to be tested.
The discussion over values is important as NPM claims to depoliticize public administration by introduce customer-driven systems that will “depoliticize” the choice-of-provider decision (Osborne and Gaebler, 1993). This should increase the professionalism of management and turn policy into a “neat, predictable politics of expertise governed by rational decision making and performance measures” (Garofalo, 2000, p.108, in Rommel, 2004). However, this increased rationalization has dangerous consequences. By attaching greater importance to economic decision signals, civil servants will attach less importance to political signals and in some cases even find political interference inappropriate (Christensen and Laegreid, 1998; 2001). By depoliticizing policy decisions, public administration could become more technocratic. According to Gregory (1998, in Rommel,...
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