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Public Administration Reforms in Europe

Public Administration Reforms in Europe

The View from the Top

Edited by Gerhard Hammerschmid, Steven Van de Walle, Rhys Andrews and Philippe Bezes

Based on a survey of more than 6700 top civil servants in 17 European countries, this book explores the impacts of New Public Management (NPM)-style reforms in Europe from a uniquely comparative perspective. It examines and analyses empirical findings regarding the dynamics, major trends and tools of administrative reforms, with special focus on the diversity of top executives’ perceptions about the effects of those reforms.

Chapter 16: A top-down, customer-oriented approach to reform: perceptions from UK civil servants

James Downe, Rhys Andrews and Valeria Guarneros-Meza

Subjects: business and management, public management, politics and public policy, european politics and policy, public administration and management, public policy


The survey of senior civil servants in UK central government was conducted at a crucial time as the impact of the fiscal crisis was starting to be felt. These perceptions are important as they reveal what reforms and instruments are working and how things could be changed in the future. The results suggest that the UK remains more committed to New Public Management (NPM) reforms and instruments, such as contracting out, privatization and business management practices, than other European countries. These reforms also seem to have been implemented in a more top-down way, with public sector downsizing being more important than elsewhere. Nonetheless, although the attractiveness of the public sector as an employer and trust in government appear to have weakened, we find high take-up of certain post-NPM reforms and practices, such as open government and external partnership, with a corresponding pay-off in terms of improved transparency and citizen participation.

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