The Provision of Public Services in Europe

The Provision of Public Services in Europe

Between State, Local Government and Market

Edited by Hellmut Wollmann and Gérard Marcou

The book is the first of its kind to provide a comparative analysis of the provision of social and public services in France, Italy, Germany, the UK and Norway.

Chapter 3: New Public Management in Continental Europe: Local Government Modernization in Germany, France and Italy from a Comparative Perspective

Sabine Kuhlmann and Paolo Fedele

Subjects: economics and finance, services, politics and public policy, european politics and policy, public policy


Sabine Kuhlmann and Paolo Fedele INTRODUCTION 1. This chapter examines new public management (NPM) reforms at the local level in Germany, France and Italy. Continental Europe is often regarded as a ‘maintainer’ or ‘latecomer’ in terms of NPM-inspired reforms, whereas the Anglo-Saxon countries are seen as ‘forerunners’, ‘marketizers’ and ‘minimizers’ (see Pollitt and Bouckaert, 2004). With the increasing budgetary and economic problems at the beginning of the 1990s, the NPM debate was, however, able to gain a foothold in continental Europe, although some of its elements had long been well known and practised at the local level. Local actors in continental Europe often did not explicitly refer to the ‘NPM agenda’ or even – particularly in France – purposely avoided this term because of its unpopular connotations in the national context. However, many of the strategic NPM elements were in practice taken up by local governments. Against this background, the purpose of this contribution is twofold. On the one hand, we wish to show to what extent and with what effects the NPM agenda has been adopted at the local level in continental Europe.1 On the other hand, the chapter, taking a longitudinal, comparative perspective, investigates whether these reforms have brought greater convergence or divergence between the three countries. In order to assess the outcomes of reform and identify patterns of convergence/divergence, we make an analytical distinction between two dimensions of NPM reforms (external and internal). On the one hand, the NPM approach proposes a redistribution of tasks between the state and...

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