The Impact of Contemporary Management Ideas: their influence on the Constitution of Public Sector Management Work

Publisher:
Palgrave Macmillan
Publication Type:
Chapter
Citation:
Materiality and Managerial Techniques: New Perspectives on Organizations, Artefacts and Practices, 2018, pp. 103 - 132
Issue Date:
2018
Metrics:
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Public sector reforms informed by contemporary management ideas that have taken place across Anglo-American polities since the 1980s were focused on economic rationalist concepts and managerialist approaches that prevailed in the private sector. Hence, concepts such as efficiency and effectiveness were advocated for the public sector, often on the assumption that they were relevant and could be applied easily. Private sector management concepts, principles, processes and practices were promoted under the mantra of ‘let the managers manage’ to be followed by ‘make the managers manage’. Critics have deemed public sector reforms, inspired by contemporary management ideas, as unsuitable in application to the public sector, given the unique character of public management (Brunsson, 2006; Gregory, 2003; Moe, 1994; Savoie, 1994; Sundstrom, 2006; Talbot, 2001; Williams, 2000). Nonetheless, these ideas became very fashionable in the English-speaking world. This chapter discusses the impact of contemporary management ideas couched as public sector reforms from the 1980s onward and specifically addresses the question of how contemporary management ideas have influenced Departmental Secretaries and their work. The role played by the Departmental Secretaries, central agencies and the government of the day, in the acceptance or rejection of contemporary management ideas, as well as the analysis of how such ideas travelled, were translated, trans-ferred and transformed, is also considered.
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