The way ahead for new public management
journal contributionposted on 06.06.2017, 01:47 by Hughes, Owen
In recent years the public sectors of a number of countries have experienced what has been called 'new public management' (Hood, 1991; Hughes, 1998). 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. The changes induced by the new public management have continued for a number of years now. In many respects the reforms have been successful, in others they have not. Some countries have proceeded further than others; Australia and Malaysia are two of the countries which have adopted much of the model. The next thing to look at, however, is what comes next, that is what are the lessons from those aspects which have or have not worked well and those which have worked badly. As with any reform movement there are critics: such criticism is at its strongest over the application of new public management to developing countries. There are some lessons which point to a way ahead for managerial reform. Of course, some would favour abandoning the reform movement altogether and returning to the certainties of the traditional model of public administration. Such a move would be a mistake and is unlikely to occur. What is needed instead is an appreciation of where the new public management reforms have succeeded and failed and where they are likely to proceed. A particular focus in what follows concerns developing countries. Instead of arguing, as some do, that new public management should not be applied to developing countries, it is more useful to set out the preconditions in order for these reforms to work in any country regardless of its state of development. From this a research agenda can be devised.