This article provides a personal interpretation of the key findings of the Economic and Social Research Council’s Whitehall Programme. I tell the distinctive story of ‘governance’— of fragmentation, networks, unintended consequences and diplomacy — challenging the dominant, managerial account of change in British govern-ment since 1979. I present a view of the world in which networks rival markets and bureaucracy as ways of allocating resources and co-ordinating policy and its implementation.
R.A.W. Rhodes was Director of the ESRC Whitehall Programme and is Professor of Politics, Univer-sity of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The text is based on the publications of the Whitehall Programme. The article is a ‘taster’ for the two survey volumes which provide summaries of every project. (R.A.W. Rhodes (ed.). 2000. Transforming British government. Volume 1. Changing institutions. Volume 2. Changing roles and relationships. London: Macmillan). I cannot cover every project in one article so the citations are a personal ‘best of’. I apologize to those colleagues whose work is not given the prominence I am sure it will command elsewhere. To make some sense of 23 projects, selectivity was unavoidable. I quote from and paraphrase my colleagues’ work extensively and refer readers to the appropriate volume and chapter in Rhodes (2000a) which contains a summary of every project with citations. I have not given page references for every quotation to avoid over-burdening the text. I apologize if any colleague thinks I have violated academic conventions but I am sure readers know I report the Programme’s work, not just my own. There are a few unattributed quotes in the text which are taken from my interviews with senior civil servants while Programme Director. Finally, I draw on official publications and speeches and lectures by ministers and senior civil servants. I have not cited other relevant literature simply because I seek to show the distinctive contribution of the Whitehall Programme. Finally, I would like to thank Mark Bevir and Janice McMillan for their continuing advice and help and the ESRC and the Cabinet Office for supporting the White-hall Programme. For further information about the Programme, names and addresses of principal investigators and copies of all Briefings contact the author or visit the Whitehall Programme’s web site: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/|npol/whitehall/index/html