New Public Management Research Paper

Custom Writing Services

Sample New Public Management Research Paper. Browse other research paper examples and check the list of political science  research paper topics for more inspiration. If you need a research paper written according to all the academic standards, you can always turn to our experienced writers for help. This is how your paper can get an A! Also, chech our custom research proposal writing service for professional assistance. We offer high-quality assignments for reasonable rates.

A term coined in the late 1980s to denote a new (or renewed) stress on the importance of management and ‘production engineering’ in public service delivery, often linked to doctrines of economic rationalism (see Hood 1989, Pollitt 1993). The apparent emergence of a more managerial ‘mood’ in several (mainly but not exclusively English-speaking) countries at that time created a need for a new label. The new term was intended to denote public service reform programs that were not confined to the ‘new right’ in a narrow sense, but also came from labor and social-democratic parties and in that sense could be considered as part of what was later labeled a ‘third way’ agenda.

Need a Custom-Written Essay or a Research Paper?

Academic Writing, Editing, Proofreading, And Problem Solving Services

New Public Management is sometimes (understandably) confused with the ‘New Public Administration’ movement in the USA of the late 1960s and early 1970s (cf. Marini 1971). But though there may have been some common features, the central themes of the two movements were different. The main thrust of the New Public Administration movement was to bring academic public administration into line with a radical egalitarian agenda that was influential in US university campuses at that time. By contrast, the emphasis of the New Public Management movement a decade or so later was firmly managerial in the sense that it stressed the difference management could and should make to the quality and efficiency of public services. Its focus on public service production functions and operational issues contrasted with the focus on public accountability, ‘model employer’ public service values, ‘due process,’ and what happens inside public organizations in conventional public administration. That meant New Public Management doctrines tended to be opposed to egalitarian ideas of managing without managers, juridical doctrines of rigidly rule-bound administration and doctrines of self-government by public-service professionals like teachers and doctors.

However, like most divinities, the core of New Public Management is somewhat mystical in essence, despite or perhaps because of the amount that has been written about its central content. Different authors give various lists of its key traits (e.g., Hood 1989, Pollitt 1993). Some have identified different styles of public-sector managerialism over time (see Ferlie et al. 1996). How far the small-government economic-rationalist agenda that went together with more stress on public-sector management in the 1980s and 1990s was integral to those managerial ideas is debatable (see Barzelay 2000). But it is hard to separate these elements historically, since the advent of a new generation of public-sector managerialism coincided with concern by numerous OECD governments to reduce the power of public service trade unions, increase regulatory transparency and tackle perceived inefficiencies of public enterprises. A commonly-cited view of New Public Management’s central doctrinal content is Aucoin’s (1990) argument that it comprised a mixture of ideas drawn from corporate management and from institutional economics or public choice. To the extent that Aucoin’s characterization is accurate, it suggests New Public Management involves a marriage, if not exactly of opposites, at least of different outlooks, attitudes, and beliefs that are in tension. Savoie (1995) argues that the central doctrinal theme of public-sector managerialism is the idea of giving those at the head of public organizations more discretionary decision space in exchange for direct accountability for their actions.

Despite the label, many of the doctrines commonly associated with New Public Management are not new. Jeremy Bentham’s voluminous philosophy of public administration developed in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century provides the locus classicus for many supposedly contemporary ideas, including transparent management, pay for performance, public service provision by private organizations, and individual responsibility. The idea that more effective public services could be obtained by judicious application of private-sector management ideas is also a theme going back at least to the US city-manager movement of the late nineteenth century (cf. Downs and Larkey 1986). It was advanced early in the twentieth century by figures like Taylor (1916) and Demitriadi (1921). The idea that public services can be improved by giving some autonomy to managers operating at arms length from political standardsetters was often invoked in the nationalized public enterprise era. It was central to Beatrice and Sydney Webb’s early twentieth-century Fabian idea of the proper way of organizing the ‘social’ tasks of government. Some have argued the contemporary doctrine of creating ‘managerial space’ in public services harks back to the US Progressive-era doctrine of a politicsadministration dichotomy and independent regulators (cf. Overman 1984).

Like feminism or environmentalism, New Public Management is both a social movement and a subject of academic study. Indeed, during the 1990s, New Public Management has become a major academic industry across the world, filling bookshelves and websites with writings and conference proceedings using the term in their titles. It has its advocates and its critics, its analysts, morphologists and epistemologists, its evaluators and case-historians. Advocates stress the value to citizens and consumers to be gained by enlightened managers moving beyond what is claimed to be an outdated ‘bureaucratic paradigm,’ paying more attention to how to satisfy citizen demands and to service delivery through organizations other than traditional public bureaucracies (see Barzelay and Armajani 1992, Osborne and Gaebler 1992, Jones and Thompson 1999). A sophisticated defence of public-sector managerialism is Moore’s (1995) exposition of a ‘strategic triangle’ (of political possibility, substantive value, and administrative feasibility) within which skillful and entrepreneurial public managers can ‘add value’ to public services. Critics of public-sector managerialism stress the virtues of traditional Weberian bureaucracy for rule-of-law or public accountability (cf. Goodsell 1994) or see managerialism as a ‘wrong problem problem’ (Frederickson 1996) diverting governments’ attention from hard policy choices. Some critics of New Public Management doctrines see them as too heavily based on business-school and private-sector management perspectives, and some public-choice scholars have offered ‘rent-seeking’ explanations of contemporary public sector reforms (see Dunleavy 1992).

Morphologists and analysts of New Public Management have several concerns. They include exploring different forms and types of public-sector managerialism, identifying how managerialism varies cross-nationally, and explaining the observed commonalities and differences (cf. Savoie 1995, Aucoin 1995). A key debate (to date inconclusive because of poor benchmarking of historical points of origin) concerns how far or in what ways contemporary public management reforms represent convergence on some global paradigm. Some stress the international commonality of public-sector management reform themes while others stress the different political motivations that prompt reforms (Cheung 1997) or argue that New Public Management represents an ‘Anglo-Saxon’ reform agenda that does not resonate in other contexts (Derlien 1992, Kickert 1997). A related explanatory enterprise is represented by a search to understand why management-reform ideas became popular when and where they did (cf. Hood and Jackson 1991). Epistemological debates concern the appropriate disciplinary framework for reasoning about contemporary public sector management and the rival claims of different schools or approaches to intellectual ownership of the subject, particularly in the US context of competing schools of public policy, public administration and political science (see Lynn 1996, Barzelay 2000).

Evaluators and case-historians of public-sector managerial change track the processes of reform and explore their effects. Much of this work is pitched at the level of single agencies (such as Jones and Thompson 1999), but there have been some attempts to evaluate government-wide changes (see Schick 1996). Evaluation of the effects of new managerial techniques has been patchy, but several scholars have identified ‘managerial paradoxes’ of one kind or another. One of those paradoxes is Maor’s (1999) observation that the development of a more managerial approach to public service produced more, not less, politicization of the senior public service in six countries. A second is Gregory’s (1995) controversial claim that orthodox managerial approaches foster a ‘production’ approach to public services that leads to several unintended effects, including downgrading of responsibility and what he termed ‘careful incompetence.’ A third is the claim, redolent of Tocqueville’s paradox of administrative development in postrevolutionary France, that contemporary public management may in fact involve more rather than less ‘rules-based, process-driven’ bureaucracy, as a result of increasing oversight and regulation and continuing stress on compliance-based rather than result-based evaluation (see Light 1993, Jones and Thompson 1999, Hood et al. 1999, Pollitt et al. 1999).

In spite of the scale and growth of the New Public Management ‘industry,’ or perhaps because of it, the term New Public Management has probably outlived its analytic usefulness. The term is ambiguous because the agenda of public sector reform has moved in some respects beyond the traits identified by scholars of public management in the 1990s reflecting the various cultural cross-currents that have swept through managerial debate. The term is also too crude for the finegrained distinctions between different sorts and themes of managerialism that academic scholars need to make as the study of public services develops and the public sector reform movement becomes professionalized. Just as Eskimos are said to have many different terms to distinguish different types of snow, we need more words to describe the cultural and technical variety of contemporary managerialism. So it is not surprising that there have been numerous attempts to proclaim a move beyond New Public Management (e.g. Minogue et al. 1998). Nevertheless, in spite of its oft-proclaimed death, the term refuses to lie down and continues to be widely used by practitioners and academics alike.


  1. Aucoin P 1990 Administrative reform in public management: paradigms, principles, paradoxes and pendulums. Governance 3: 115–37
  2. Aucoin P 1995 The New Public Management. IRPP, Montreal, Canada
  3. Barzelay M 2000 The New Public Management. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA
  4. Barzelay M, Armajani B J 1992 Breaking Through Bureaucracy. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA
  5. Cheung A B L 1997 Understanding public-sector reforms: Global trends and diverse agendas. International Review of Administrative Sciences 63(4): 435–57
  6. Demitriadi S 1921 A Reform for the Civil Service. Cassell, London
  7. Derlien H-U 1992 Administrative reform in Europe—Rather comparable than comparative. Governance 5(3): 279–311
  8. Downs G W, Larkey P D 1986 The Search for Government Effi 1st edn. Temple University Press, Philadelphia, PA Dunleavy P 1992 Democracy, Bureaucracy and Public Choice. Harvester Wheatsheaf, Aldershot, UK
  9. Ferlie E, Pettigrew A, Ashburner, Fitzgerald L 1996 The New Public Management in Action. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK
  10. Frederickson G H 1996 Comparing the reinventing government movement with the new public administration. Public Administration Review 56(3): 263–70
  11. Goodsell C T 1994 The Case for Bureaucracy, 3rd edn. Chatham House, Chatham, NJ
  12. Gregory R 1995 Accountability, responsibility and corruption: Managing the ‘public production process’. In: Boston J (ed.) The State Under Contract. Bridget Williams Books, Wellington, New Zealand
  13. Hood C 1989 Public administration and public policy: Intellectual challenges for the 1990s. Australian Journal of Public Administration 48: 346–58
  14. Hood C, Jackson M 1991 Administrative Argument. Aldershot, Dartmouth, UK
  15. Hood C, Scott C, James O, Jones G W, Travers A 1999 Regulation Inside Government. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK
  16. Jones L, Thompson F 1999 Public Management. JAI Press, Stamford, CA
  17. Kickert W J 1997 Public management in the United States and Europe. In: Kickert W J M (ed.) Public Management and Administrative Reform in Western Europe. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK, pp. 15–38
  18. Light P Q 1993 Monitoring Government. Brookings Institution, Washington, DC
  19. Lynn Jr. L E 1996 Public Management as Art Science and Profession. Chatham House, Chatham, NJ
  20. Marini F 1971 Toward a New Public Administration. Chandler, Scranton, PA
  21. Maor M 1999 The Paradox of Managerialism. Public Administration Review 59(1): 5–18
  22. Minogue M, Polidano C, Hulme D (eds.) 1998 Beyond the New Public Management. E Elgar, Cheltenham, UK
  23. Moore M H 1995 Creating Public Value. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA
  24. Osborne D, Gaebler T 1992 Reinventing Government. AddisonWesley, Reading, MA
  25. Overman E S 1984 Public management. Public Administration Review 44: 275–8
  26. Pollitt C 1993 Managerialism and the Public Services, 2nd edn. Blackwell, Oxford, UK
  27. Pollitt C, Girre X, Lonsdale J, Mul R, Summa H, Waerness M 1999 Performance or Compliance? Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK
  28. Savoie D J 1995 Thatcher, Reagan, Mulroney. Pittsburgh University Press, Pittsburgh, PA
  29. Schick A 1996 The Spirit of Reform. State Services Commission and NZ Treasury, Wellington, New Zealand
  30. Taylor F W 1916 Government effi Bulletin of the Taylor Society 2: 7–13
Political Aspects of Public Opinion Research Paper
Public Interest Research Paper


Always on-time


100% Confidentiality
Special offer! Get discount 10% for the first order. Promo code: cd1a428655