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Public Governance Paradigms

Competing and Co-Existing

Jacob Torfing, Lotte Bøgh Andersen, Carsten Greve and Kurt K. Klausen

This enlightening book scrutinizes the shifting governance paradigms that inform public administration reforms. From the rise to supremacy of New Public Management to new the growing preference for alternatives, four world-renowned authors launch a powerful and systematic comparison of the competing and co-existing paradigms, explaining the core features of public bureaucracy and professional rule in the modern day.
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Chapter 4: New Public Management

Jacob Torfing, Lotte Bøgh Andersen, Carsten Greve and Kurt K. Klausen


This chapter presents the intellectual and historical roots of New Public Management and discusses the content of the paradigm in light of its use in different countries. It is argued that there are two principal aspects of NPM, namely marketization based on economic theory and managerialism based on management theory. Because of NPM’s neoliberalist heritage and radical break with the core beliefs of the welfare state and the tradition of bureaucracy and professional rule, the paradigm has been thoroughly scrutinized, heavily criticized and contested. The pros and cons and the empirical experience with NPM is presented and discussed. This is done partly by discussing NPM’s claim to universality. The profile of NPM is located within the public governance diamond with a distinct profile regarding the use of incentives and regarding the involvement of societal actors. This clear-cut profile, however, becomes a bit blurred when taking the dual aspects of the economic and the managerial aspects of NPM into account.

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