NPM and the Search for Efficiency

Authored by: Rhys Andrews

The Ashgate Research Companion to New Public Management

Print publication date:  December  2010
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754678069
eBook ISBN: 9781315613321
Adobe ISBN: 9781317042372


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The belief that large public bureaucracies are inherently inefficient was a critical force driving the emergence of New Public Management (NPM) in the 1980s. To reconfigure the state along more cost-efficient lines, NPM protagonists recommended that the public sector be downsized and opened up to greater private sector influence (Hood 1991). Although the high-tide of the NPM phenomenon has arguably passed, the relationship between NPM reforms and the cost-efficiency of public organizations remains an extremely timely concern for students of public management. Faced with the effects of global recession, governments are once again searching for tools and techniques which can enable public managers to seek out and find cashable cost-savings. In this chapter, evidence on the impact of specific NPM reforms on public sector efficiency is surveyed to provide a preliminary assessment of the successes and failures of the past 20 or so years.

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