what you get here

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!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

reinventing public administration

Jules FeifferIn my other blog, I suggested some months back that the time was overdue for a reappraisal of public administration - and of what we have learned from all the reforms of the past few decades.
I recently discovered that the Royal Academy of Arts in Britain has set up a Public Service Trust which is encouraging just such a dialogue - which, it promises, will bring together practitioner and academic perspectives. It has published a couple of papers which you can find on its website - One is on the history of the UK reform - and the other on drivers of change.
Two things, however, make me rather suspicious of the venture. First one of the major funders is a large consultancy company - Ernest and Young. Second, its chairman is a banker! Such people should be in sackcloth and ashes in monasteries - not daring to tell us how to reform our public services!!
And my first skim of the "history" documents confirm my scepticism - it makes the fashionable suggestion that we need a "holistic" approach but then says nothing in its 65 pages to say what that might mean. And the "history" is the sort which a first year university undergraduate with no practical experience would write.
The only benefit I got from reading the document was a reminder of how fatuous the 2008 UK government strategy document of reform was. You can find it here
For those of you who want to know more of the reform experience in other administrative traditions have a look at Transcending new public management - the transformation of public sector reforms; T Christensen and Per Laegreid (2007). The book covers some of the Scandinavian experience – who always bring a freshness to the subject. I wonder why that is!
For some insights into the French and German experience see State and local government reforms in France and Germany: divergence and similarities; By Vincent Hoffmann-Martinot, Hellmut Wollmann

Please note that I've updated the list of googlebook references - in the "key papers" part of my website
Another interesting paper I've just downloaded focuses on the more limited field of civil service reform - and what international experience tells us. It's produced by the British thinktank IPPR and is available on their website - or, as a short-cut,

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