Reinventing the Third World State
Edited by Willy McCourt and Martin Minogue
Chapter 11: Moving the public management debate forward: a contingency approach
Willy McCourt This concluding chapter builds on the earlier substantive chapters in order to explore critically the options available to governments. In our preface we posed a number of questions, such as whether governments should keep providing most services themselves, or whether they should let private and civil society contractors in on the act; and whether the centre should cling to the reins of power so as to minimize corruption, or delegate downwards so as to ‘empower’ frontline staff and the communities whom they serve. Readers who have persevered to this point in our collection will not be expecting a straight ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to such questions. The contributors’ diversity of views, and the uncertain state of empirical research, commented on by McCourt (Chapter 6, this volume) and elsewhere (Polidano et al., 1998), precludes certainty. Moreover, and with the policy-makers among our readers especially in mind, we have no wish to use whatever influence we may possess to steer governments in any particular direction. Developing and transitional countries have had enough browbeating from donors, consultants and academics to last them a lifetime. However, the aim of our collection is to move the public management debate forward, and we hope that readers will find material in this and in our earlier chapters to help them to answer such questions. As we said in our preface, our collection had its origin partly in the experience of a number of the contributors (Heeks, McCourt, Minogue, Mundy and Polidano) as advisers to the...
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