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Changing market values? Tensions of contradicting public management discourses: A case from the Danish daycare sector

Mie Plotnikof (Management and Organizational Learning Department, University College UCC, Copenhagen, Denmark)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 10 October 2016



The purpose of this paper is to address studies of New Public Governance (NPG) as a post-New Public Management (NPM) tendency. Although NPG is considered a contrast to NPM and its market incentives, it argues that the practices emerging in tensions of NPM and NPG discourses indicate not a clear-cut shift away from NPM, but rather changes that combine competition with collaboration and trust.


It offers a discourse approach to advance the theorizing and empirical unfolding of the tensions of contradicting, yet co-existing discourses of NPM and NPG and their effects in practice. Drawing on a case study from the Danish daycare sector, it investigates local collaborative governance initiatives that develop new quality-management methods.


The study elucidates how NPM and NPG discourses collide in local practices of public sector management within daycare. It shows that the discursive tensions between such value-laden practices indicate a changing marketization associated with collaboration and trust, yet also competition.

Research limitations/implications

To research it becomes critical to advance theoretical and empirical knowledge on the constitutive effects of such complex discursive tensions in public organizations.

Practical implications

To practice it becomes necessary to acknowledge and handle co-existing, yet contradicting management discourses, and not mistake their opposing values as necessarily distinct, but rather as entangled in practice.


The paper contributes with original findings that shed new light on colliding management discourses in practices and their effects within the public sector area of daycare.



The author declares that parts of the data-collection received funding from an independent research grant from the Danish Union of Early Childhood and Youth Educators. However, the grant included full research independency and thus there is no conflict of interests related to this publication.


Plotnikof, M. (2016), "Changing market values? Tensions of contradicting public management discourses: A case from the Danish daycare sector", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 29 No. 7, pp. 659-674.



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