Public Management Reform and Modernization

Public Management Reform and Modernization

Trajectories of Administrative Change in Italy, France, Greece, Portugal and Spain

Edoardo Ongaro

Since the 1980s, a wave of reforms of public management has swept the world. The investigation into the effects of such major transformations has, however, been unbalanced: important countries have received only limited attention. This timely book fills the gap by investigating the dynamics of contemporary public management reform in five European countries that gave shape to the Napoleonic administrative tradition – France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain.

Chapter 7: Administrative Traditions and Models of Reform: Napoleonic Countries between Global Paradigms and the Neo-Weberian State

Edoardo Ongaro

Subjects: economics and finance, public sector economics, politics and public policy, public policy


THE NAPOLEONIC ADMINISTRATIVE TRADITION 7.1 This chapter looks both backward (the legacy of history in shaping the administrative system, hence the available paths for reform) and forward (the direction of reforms, and particularly the issue of whether a model of reform, both in a descriptive or interpretive and in a normative sense, is emerging for the five countries considered). The research question addressed is about what theoretical issues can be discussed on the basis of the evidence of reform in the five countries considered, and the focus is on two main themes: the traditions theme (one possible approach to addressing the broad question of how we can understand the legacy of the past, and how the past may explain change or continuity), and particularly the Napoleonic administrative tradition characterizing the five countries considered; and the topic of the Neo-Weberian State as a model of reform for the five nations examined. The theme of the Napoleonic administrative tradition is discussed in this section; Section 7.2, the final section of the book, considers the topic of the Neo-Weberian State. The idea of administrative tradition is another way of discussing the issue of the ‘family of nations’: if and to what extent a number of countries have traits in common concerning public administration systems.1 We have already introduced the definition of administrative tradition as ‘a historically based set of values, structures and relationships with other institutions that defines the nature of appropriate public administration within society’ (Peters, 2008). The traditions argument is controversial,...

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