Growing the Productivity of Government Services

Growing the Productivity of Government Services

Patrick Dunleavy and Leandro Carrera

Productivity is essentially the ratio of an organization’s outputs divided by its inputs. For many years it was treated as always being static in government agencies. In fact productivity in government services should be rising rapidly as a result of digital changes and new management approaches, and it has done so in some agencies. However, Dunleavy and Carrera show for the first time how complex are the factors affecting productivity growth in government organizations – especially management practices, use of IT, organizational culture, strategic mis-decisions and political and policy churn.

Chapter 7: Methods and quality issues in analysing complex and localized services

Patrick Dunleavy and Leandro Carrera

Subjects: economics and finance, public finance, public sector economics, politics and public policy, public policy, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy


Most public services are locally delivered, because they fundamentally require personal contact with customers or clients, or need to be provided in places that are spatially accessible by customers. Teachers normally have to be in the same room with a class of children in order to promote education. Health professionals currently cannot do much still to diagnose or treat patients in their absence. And police forces inherently have to deliver the protection of persons and property in the same spaces where people are living and working. Of course the development of second wave of ‘digital era governance’ is still extending very rapidly the boundaries of what public services are electronically (a- spatially) deliverable (Dunleavy and Margetts, 2010; Margetts and Dunleavy, 2012). Many public services that are currently locally provided may be de- spatialized in future, as has begun to happen with public libraries, given the growth of online information and e- books. But for the moment this is an exceptional case, and local provision still dominates the delivery of public services.

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