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 10: Pushing through to productivity advances

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


Thinking about prescriptive strategies for improving public sector performance often gets side- tracked into a hunt for simple remedies, which turn out subsequently not to work as intended. We have charted here, for instance, the overall failure of new public management approaches to boost organizational productivity in UK government, despite being intensively applied for nearly two decades. In a closely congruent analysis, Hood and Dixon (2012) conclude that administrative spending and running costs increased sharply in Whitehall across the new public management (NPM) period (1980 to 2010) – making its reputation as a costcutting approach an ill- deserved one.

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