Marketization, Managerialism and Welfare State Professionalism
Edited by Tanja Klenk and Emmanuele Pavolini
Chapter 9: ‘New public management’ as de-professionalization – conceptual reflections with some applications to school teachers
For more than 30 years now, governance reforms of the public sector have been oriented by basic ideas of what is usually called ‘new public management’ (NPM) in many West European countries. Whether public administrations or hospitals, universities or the military, legal courts or art museums, opera houses or schools: Each of these and other kinds of organizations have been subjected to the general doctrine that ‘more market’ will increase the efficiency as well as the effectiveness of their service production. Nobody denies that the increasing scarcity of public finances has been and still is a powerful motivation behind the implementation of NPM. However, NPM proponents claim that the pressure to economize public services makes a virtue out of necessity. Instead of an enforced downgrading of service quality which is feared by many, they claim that, on the contrary, quality increases will result from an increased competition between and within public organizations. One category of public employees is a special target group of NPM: those who understand themselves as professionals and, based on this self-understanding, claim for themselves an extraordinary level of work autonomy. Medical doctors have been a traditional profession for centuries; school teachers are one of those occupations which have demanded professional status for themselves for some decades now, and with some success. However, when neo-liberal politicians started NPM reforms in the UK and New Zealand, they deliberately fashioned these reforms as attacks on what they perceived as unjustified privileges, ‘rent-seeking’ behaviour, and plain laziness of professionals, in particular.
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