• Open Access

Toward a New Era of Administrative Reform? The Myth of Post-NPM in New Zealand


  • This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

  • The copyright line in this article was changed on 31 July 2014 after online publication.


This article explores the supposed shift from New Public Management (NPM) to a new era of “post-NPM” by looking at one critical case, New Zealand. It finds limited evidence of such a shift, suggesting that the wider literature needs to move to a more careful methodological treatment of empirical patterns. To contribute to such a move, this article applies a three-pronged approach to the study of changing doctrines in executive government. After setting out the broad contours of what NPM and post-NPM supposedly constitute, the article proceeds to a documentary analysis of State Services Commission doctrines; this is followed by an analysis of “Public Service Bargains” based on elite interviews and finally a case-study approach of the Crown Entities Act 2004. Far from a new era of administrative reform, the “messy” patterns that emerge suggest a continuation of traditional understandings and ad hoc and politically driven adjustments, leading to diversification.