Chapter 9: Rethinking the state through the lens of regulatory governance
There is much talk of how today’s state functions and how it could perform better. But rethinking the state requires answers to many of the fundamental questions considered throughout history. We may also dress this up in the language of ‘modernising’, of ‘reinventing’ and of ‘commercialising’, or perhaps use the lingo asserting that government ought to be more ‘joined up’, more of a ‘partner’ or act with a more ‘networked’ capability. Such suggestions promise new models and fresh approaches. They also cover a huge amount of ground, implying new approaches to the resolution of political conflict, and to the capacity and ability of public management to better meet the needs of today’s more demanding citizens and consumers. Any reading of history, however, suggests that legitimate government has traditionally needed to successfully reconcile a wide range of conflicting values and interests amongst multiple constituencies and simple assertions to ‘reinvent’ government, to ‘commercialise’ it or to ‘modernise’ it, have usually not been met with obvious success. This is not to say that there is not a need to do so, only that simple recipes which have succeeded in bringing immediate success to government have not been a feature of Western history over the last several decades.
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