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After all these years, what has happened to the international prevalence of NPM-inspired managerial practices?

Naomi Aoki (Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Singapore)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 10 April 2019

Issue publication date: 1 May 2019




According to a widely accepted narrative, managerial reforms associated with new public management (NPM) originated in wealthy market economies and liberal democracies and were then promoted globally. However, scientific and systematic cross-national evidence of NPM practices has remained limited in scope, and debates over their survival and prevalence remain unsettled. The purpose of this paper is to narrow this empirical gap.


Using international data from public education in approximately 65 economies in 2012, this study systematically investigated the prevalence of managerial practices, namely, the managerial responsibilities of school principals, goal orientation in school management, and performance-based human resource management (HRM). It also tested correlations between the status of these practices and political and economic conditions across economies.


As of 2012, the top users of NPM practices were geographically spread across the world in regions that included Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Economies exhibited dissimilarities in their deployment of managerial practices. Performance-based HRM tended to be used more extensively in less accountable and less wealthy economies.


By focusing on actual practices, this study offers an empirically valid, critical analysis of the global prevalence of NPM. The findings clarify some observers’ current understandings of NPM. They deliver a powerful message that debates on global reform waves can benefit greatly from empirical evidence drawn from world regions beyond one’s parochial focus.



Aoki, N. (2019), "After all these years, what has happened to the international prevalence of NPM-inspired managerial practices?", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 32 No. 4, pp. 403-417.



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