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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

managerialism as ideology


I asked why we had so easily forgotten the caution against hubris in the work of Karl Popper, James Scott etc Bit of a naive question! One obvious answer is that career incentives have developed in the last few decades for public managers, consultants and politicians who could sell the latest fashions in the private sector. Unfortunately this has tended to happen just at the moment the deficiencies of those ideas were becoming obvious (at least to those in the private sector). But the private consultants who were losing their market were only too happy to recycle their product. In the 1980s – when it was so difficult to get the public administration system to change - the key words in the field of commercial management were “reengineering”, “total quality management”, “transformation”; “reinvention” “culture change”.
Incremental change was for wimps! Suddenly, it was all or nothing!
And look at the number of Labour local politicians who were absorbed in the mid 1980s by private consultancies. Time was when the George Robertsons of this world were seduced by the American Atlanticist think-tanks. Management consultancies did the same business a decade or so later. Margaret Hodge was one of the most prominent. No wonder – as David Craig’s books so vividly show – that the spending by New Labour on such consultancies increased by a factor ten!
Nature abhors a vacuum - when old Labour lost its ideology, New Labour found managerialism!

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