Bureaucracy, Network, or Enterprise? Comparing Models of Governance in Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, and New Zealand

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Abstract

Theories of democratic government traditionally have relied on a model of organization in which officials act impartially, accept clear lines of accountability and supervision, and define their day–to–day activities through rules, procedures, and confined discretion. In the past 10 years, however, a serious challenge to this ideal has been mounted by critics and reformers who favor market, network, or “mixed–economy” models. We assess the extent to which these new models have influenced the work orientations of frontline staff using three alternative service types—corporate, market, and network—to that proposed by the traditional, procedural model of public bureaucracy. Using surveys of frontline officials in four countries where the revolution in ideas has been accompanied by a revolution in methods for organizing government services, we measure the degree to which the new models are operating as service–delivery norms. A new corporate–market hybrid (called “enterprise governance”) and a new network type have become significant models for the organization of frontline work in public programs.

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