The Diminishing Publicness of Public Service under the Current Mode of Governance



In this article, it is argued that while there has been an apparent eclipse in discourse regarding the publicness or public quality of public service, the recent transition toward a market-driven mode of governance has created a serious challenge to such publicness. More specifically, the contemporary businesslike changes in the objectives, structures, functions, norms, and users of public service tend to diminish its publicness in terms of its current trends toward eroding public-private distinction, shrinking socioeconomic role, narrowing composition of service recipients, worsening condition of accountability, and declining level of public trust. Based on the existing studies, empirical findings, and country experiences, this article delineates the basic criteria determining the publicness of public service, uses these criteria to demonstrate how the recent businesslike reforms have led to the erosion of such publicness, and makes recommendations for reviving the quality of publicness in public service.