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Managing risk in public services: A review of the international literature

Jeremy Vincent (Centre for Public Services Management, South Bank University Business School, London, UK)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 1 April 1996



Claims that the small but steady growth in discussion in academic circles of aspects of risk taking and risk management, as they affect public services managers generally, which is observable in the UK, does not appear to be reflected so strongly in the wider international literature. Here, the direction of the debate and discussion turns much more on quasi‐constitutional issues and topics, such as “accountability” and “control”. As efforts grow to decentralize public services organizations and give public service managers more control over the day‐to‐day operational running of their organizations, a new term has entered the language of the debate ‐ that of “agility”. Suggests this appears to combine the skill of handling increased accountability for decision making with that of the upgrading of managers’ skills. Finds that risk is explored more widely in related texts, predominantly where a particular public service, such as the police, health or social services, is simultaneously viewed as a profession. Aims to explain why the international literature pointedly avoids much explicit discussion of risk, preferring to frame the issue within terms concerning levels of financial control and official accountability.



Vincent, J. (1996), "Managing risk in public services: A review of the international literature", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 57-64.




Copyright © 1996, MCB UP Limited

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