Edited by Andrew Massey and Karen Johnston
Chapter 16: The state and perceptions of public sector reform in Europe
As in most other areas of the world, the public sector in Europe has undergone significant reform in the past two decades, shaped in part by a broader new public management (NPM) paradigm, but one that also introduces a unique European flavour. Whilst NPM and public administration in Europe share similarities with other cases, differing starting points and the EU layer provide interesting insights into the nature of public sector reforms from a broader comparative perspective. This chapter will draw on a large-scale survey of top European executives in central government in order to develop a more comprehensive and comparative picture of NPM reforms and their effects over the last five years. Focusing on a cross-section of nine EU countries plus Norway, the chapter will present findings on reform initiatives, relevance of different reform trends and their general success and impact within the case countries. The chapter will first provide a general overview of the state of public administration and the public sector in the European countries under study before turning to how the public sector and its reform are perceived by top executives. This latter investigation will focus on key trends in public sector reform in terms of both NPM and post-NPM reforms such as outcome/result orientation, downsizing, contracting out, cutting red tape, transparency and openness, cooperation, digital/e-government, citizen participation and others. The chapter will look at the importance of these trends in the selected countries before examining the nature of these reforms.
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