TWO MYTHS OF CONVERGENCE IN PUBLIC MANAGEMENT REFORM

Authors

  • SHAUN GOLDFINCH,

    1. Shaun Goldfinch is Associate Professor at Nottingham University Business School, University of Nottingham.
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  • JOE WALLIS

    1. Joe Wallis is Professor and Head of Department, Management, Marketing and Public Administration in the School of Business and Management, American University of Sharjah, UAE.
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Abstract

The literature on public management reform exhibits two intertwined convergence myths. First, a world-wide consensus on a new public management (NPM) reform agenda is seen to exist amongst policy reformers and practitioners. If this agenda is not fully implemented in all cases, this is generally explained by political and reform setbacks rather than disagreement on policy aims. Second, this NPM agenda is now seen as challenged and even abandoned and replaced by an emergent post-NPM or ‘public value leadership’ agenda and/or policy paradigm. We show the NPM convergence is overstated, with a remarkable resilience of existing institutions, and a diversity of public management systems. On the other hand, even within NPM exemplars that have putatively now adopted a post-NPM agenda, there is debate to what degree NPM has been abandoned, and over the novelty, coherence and resilience of the post-NPM agenda. Divergence and contextual variation prevail. The role of myth in policy reform is further examined.

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