Public Management Reform. A Comparative Analysis

Managerial Auditing Journal

ISSN: 0268-6902

Article publication date: 1 July 2000



Vinten, G. (2000), "Public Management Reform. A Comparative Analysis", Managerial Auditing Journal, Vol. 15 No. 5, pp. 253-255.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

This is an ambitious project to provide an integrated analysis of the drift of public services reforms over the past 20 years across three continents. Huge claims have been made for such reforms, not the least for savings and efficiency gains achieved, although in practice these are often disputable and far from straightforward. There is also the bias that much of the self‐congratulatory literature has been Anglophone, whereas significant developments have taken place elsewhere. Both background similarities, and differences, often based on constitutional and political features, are established at the outset. This leads to both taxonomies and trajectories. The factual basis for this is included in a lengthy appendix of country files. The final chapters are more reflective, interpreting and evaluating the experience of the last two decades. Reflection turns to speculation in the very last chapter which considers likely future scenarios. The countries in the frame are:

  • Australia;

  • Canada;

  • Finland;

  • France;

  • The Federal Republic of Germany;

  • The Netherlands;

  • New Zealand;

  • Sweden;

  • United Kingdom;

  • USA.

Each is backed up by a chronology of significant events in five yearly periods for the past 20 years. This itself is divided into general, organization, personnel, and finance. Accompanying this in narrative is a common format of:

  • socio‐economic forces: general;

  • global economic forces;

  • socio‐demographic issues;

  • national socio‐economic policies;

  • the political system;

  • new management ideas;

  • party political ideas;

  • pressure from citizens;

  • elite perceptions of what management reforms are desirable;

  • elite perceptions of what management reforms are feasible;

  • chance events;

  • the administrative system;

  • contents of the reform package;

  • the implementation process;

  • reforms actually achieved.

The gambit of starting with generalised discussion, and then providing country‐specific data in the appendix for those either lacking the depth of such knowledge, or wishing to cross‐check the veracity of earlier comment, works well. With globalisation, one would hope that such a text would become the norm, despite the more complicated research needed to write such a text. This has been a tall order for our two authors, even though they have succeeded. One almost needs a database of materials being constantly updated through a network of international collaborators. This will be the next challenge.

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