Reinventing the Third World State
New Horizons in Public Policy series
Edited by Willy McCourt and Martin Minogue
Chapter 6: The NPM agenda for service delivery: a suitable model for developing countries?
Willy McCourt To what extent do the new approaches to delivering public services associated with the rise of the new public management (NPM) provide a model for improving the management of public services in developing countries? I address this question first by outlining the approaches, presenting them in the historical context in which they emerged, and reviewing the quite welldocumented experience of applying them in the member countries of the OECD. I go on to discuss briefly other changes in service delivery which are outside the NPM model that have occurred in those countries; and I recapitulate that review in the context of developing countries in order to arrive at some provisional conclusions. THE NPM AGENDA FOR SERVICE DELIVERY Historical Context The NPM agenda for service delivery is best understood in the historical context in which it emerged. As with NPM more generally, there was an intermediate stage between the approaches to service delivery that were associated with classical public administration and the approaches associated with NPM. This was the early years of the Reagan and Thatcher administrations in the USA and the UK, in the first half of the 1980s. It was a period when the two administrations pursued a policy of ‘rolling back the frontiers of the state’ (readers will notice a strong similarity with what I call the ‘Washington model’ in the concluding chapter - Chapter 11 - in this collection). Capitalizing on public hostility to ‘big government’ - government, Reagan said, was ‘not the solution but...
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