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Development and new public management: partners in the new century?

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-06-05, 03:30 authored by Hughes, Owen, Samaratunge, Ramanie
Development, by definition, focuses on the way of upgrading the quality of life in the long run (Turner and Hulme 1997; Hyden 1983). The significance of quality and effectiveness of governance in increasing national prosperity has been widely recognised (OECD 1996) and consequently in the global environment that emerged in the 1980s, an effective public service with appropriate management practices has become a necessary pre-condition for development (OECD 1998).
In recent years the public sectors of a number of developed countries have experienced what has been called 'new public management' (Hughes 1998; Scott, Ball and Dale 1997; Zifcak 1994; Pollitt 1993). This movement has resulted in, within some jurisdictions, a transformation of the management of the public sector: as traditional public administration has been replaced; as former public enterprises have been privatised; as the terms and conditions for employing public servants have become more like those of the private sector and as the contracting out of services has proceeded apace.
Developing countries, where the traditional colonial administrative model has remained dominant, have long been searching for the best means of delivering public goods and services in order to adapt to the global environment in the new century. A number of developing countries such as Malaysia (Common, 1999), Ghana (Larbi, 1998), Hong Kong (Cheng, 1996) and Sri Lanka (Samaratunge, 1999) have already introduced selected elements of the new model of public management. As one might been expected, this move has been more controversial than has its introduction in developed countries.
Developing countries do have special needs, but by any measure the traditional administrative model has been a general failure in such countries. Given that, this paper examines the relationship between development and new public management in the light of the recent public sector reforms in developing countries. It is argued that the public sector can play a vital role in the process of development with appropriate managerial practices and facilitating the private sector in order to capitalise on the new opportunities in the global environment. New public management provides a better path in this regard even though the developed country model cannot be fully replicated as a radical reform in developing countries due to different environments.


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Department of Management

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