Challenges and Prospects
Edited by John Fenwick and Janice McMillan
Chapter 6: Working Life in the Public Organisation
David Farnham INTRODUCTION Public services are broadly defined as the activities of central government, such as the civil service and other nationally provided services, and local government services, most of which are provided by the state universally to its citizens. In some cases, local services are supplied by nongovernmental, not-for-profit, ‘welfare’ agencies funded partly by taxpayers and partly from other, voluntary sources. In providing public services, the liberal-democratic state is seen by some commentators as pursuing the ‘common good’ or the ‘public good’ on behalf of its citizens. The market provides the goods and services bought by paying ‘customers’ or ‘consumers’ from firms or individuals in an increasingly global economy. The state or administrative system of each country, in turn, provides those goods and services supplied ‘freely’ by public bodies to its citizens or at ‘prices’ subsidised by taxpayers. As states develop and mature, the scope of public services grows, increasing with the complexity of modern life. However, as the cost of public services rises, and shifts in political and economic ideas and inter-generational change take place, the boundaries and shape of public services are reconfigured and re-engineered through what is generically described as ‘public management reform’. As this book and other works show, throughout the contemporary world the boundaries and shapes of public services have been radically transformed in the past three decades. Successive waves of ‘modernisation’, ‘new public management’ and ‘public management reform’ have fundamentally changed public services in a number of critical respects. Reform has affected who...
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