Managerialism ‐ something old, something borrowed, little new

John Dixon (Department of Politics and Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Lingnan College, Hong Kong)
Alexander Kouzmin (Department of Management and Administration, Faculty of Commerce, University of Western Sydney, New South Wales, Australia)
Nada Korac‐Kakabadse (Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University, Cranfield, UK)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Publication date: 1 April 1998

Abstract

Of many managerialist panaceas, the most prevalent one today is the assertion that private sector practices will solve the public sector’s “self‐evident” inadequate performance. This managerialist view assumes hegemonic proportions in Anglo‐Saxon public sectors and largely goes unchallenged, notwithstanding serious reservations about the superiority of private managerial prerogatives one would draw from organization theory or, even, mainstream liberal economics, which is largely silent about the role of management and control in economic behaviour. It is a particular brand of economics that underscores the linking of public agency efficiency to managerial ability and performance. In neo‐institutional economics, “rent‐seeking” behaviour is attributed to civil servants, rather than corporate entrepreneurs, and from that ideological perspective of bureaucratic pathology flows a whole series of untested propositions culminating in the commercializing, corporatizing and privatizing rationales, now uncritically accepted by most bureaucrats themselves to be axiomatically true. The economistic underpinning of managerialism and its “New Functionalism” in organizational design hardly addresses the significant structural, cultural and behavioural changes necessary to bring about the rhetorical benefits said to flow from the application of managerialist solutions. Managerialism expects public managers to improve efficiency, reduce burdensome costs and enhance organizational performance in a competitive stakeholding situation. Managerialism largely ignores the administrative‐political environment which rewards risk‐averse behaviour which, in turn, militates against the very behavioural and organizational reforms managerialists putatively seek for the public sector.

Keywords

Citation

Dixon, J., Kouzmin, A. and Korac‐Kakabadse, N. (1998), "Managerialism ‐ something old, something borrowed, little new", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 11 No. 2/3, pp. 164-187. https://doi.org/10.1108/09513559810216483

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MCB UP Ltd

Copyright © 1998, Company

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