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The New Public Management

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New public management is a way of saying how to manage public administration or government-subsidized institutions so that they work as well as possible. The new public management starts with the question of why we need to reform public management in order to reform the Weber model.

Why reform the "bureaucratic model"?[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

According to Max Weber, bureaucracy is the superior form of organization. Political neutrality is political and administrative separation. The administration must be at the service of the government and therefore apolitical, otherwise it will not be able to function properly. For Weber, the tasks are predetermined by texts known to everyone, such as laws, for example, there is a hierarchy of functions to ensure control at all levels, rules and decisions are to ensure equal treatment. Bureaucrats must also be competent and politically neutral. Job security is regarded by Weber as a guarantee of public service.

The new public management criticizes Weber's model, because it is a very rigid model, unrealistic in particular as regards the gaps between the work required and the actual work and not very adaptable. This is the gap that Crozier and Friedberg had already shown with the vicious circle theory. For Crozier, for each new situation, there will be a new rule and therefore an inflation of rules, procedures, but also services, authorities and departments that will try to implement these rules and procedures, making the administration sprawling, which makes it an inefficient economic model. A critique is based on the notion of motivation referring to human resources management and Mayo. It's a monotonous job, with little use of creativity and a set of specifications. The other criticism stems from the notion of job stability and job security, which runs counter to Weber's claim that job stability is not a source of manipulation, but a source of "slipping". If the public servant knows that regardless of performance, he or she is going to keep his or her job, he or she would do little to increase his or her job or salary. This argument relates to the extrinsic aspect of the design, i. e. it is not the content of the work that motivates, but the benefits. To ensure that people are motivated, there must be benefits attached to the quality of their work. This was more in terms of stick, i. e. penalisation, than motivation. There is the idea of endangering people with the risk of job loss if performance is not achieved.

The theories of the public choice is in particular related to the theory of the agency. The public choice theory has a starting premise which is to say that everyone will try to seek an advantage that is proper. There is the idea of economic rationality, which is very strong. The premise is that everyone will seek to pursue their own interests as well as common ones. The duty officer will behave the same way. This means that every civil servant, every head of department will have in mind to maximize his interest, to try to have as many budgets as possible for his service, the most benefit to deliver or even as much prestige as possible. As a result, the public administration becomes much larger.

What will lead to success is the element of information asymmetry. The people who have the information can present the situation of this service in such a way that the budget increase becomes indisputable. This asymmetry of information can be used to pass on budget or staff increases. Those above do not know the needs of the service because they are at a higher level than those directly related to the users and they must trust the information transmitted by people close to the field. Heads of service also have the possibility of using the power of intermediation, i. e. trying to create parliamentary coalitions to defend increases in the budget of a service. The ability to create coalitions of interest or coalitions of intermediaries will be able to defend the increase in the budget. According to the supporters of the public choice, this is inevitable.

Because of these elements, the fact that each person seeks to pursue his or her own interests, there is a divergence of interests, a conflict between bureaucrats who are always going to pursue their own interests and representatives of the political power who have in mind the common good and the general interest. The result that can be observed is that we are going to have an overproduction of bureaucratic goods and services because they are going to have extra budgets, produce more goods, increase quality, leading to an overcost, a problem of efficiency, an overproduction and an over-quality through goods, products or services that are of a higher quality than what we would need. There is a magnification of the mass of goods, a magnification in terms of production and quality that would be excessive compared to what is really necessary. Public Choice supporters say that you can talk about rent when you talk about these behaviours. Heads of service would have a rent resulting from a monopoly on the supply of public goods and services. Since there is a monopoly situation, there are no competitors and no matter what happens, there is no risk of losing the provision of the service. The state will produce goods at a much higher cost than the market could do. The state is not driven to rationalize and optimize. It is a system where we are going to appropriate pensions that come from the state's monopoly situation.

The public choice proposes to reduce the size of the state, on the other hand, if the state produces too much because it is in a monopoly position, then we have to get out of the state monopoly by opening up the state to market practices. There is an idea of state subordination to the market, which must be implemented in two ways:

  • an internal subordination: the State itself, within it, must operate in the same way as if it were a market with, in particular, the transparency of funds or cost accounting. The functioning of the state must be made subject to the market.
  • External subordination: the State must compete with external market players. This competition is seen as a means of encouraging and improving the efficiency and quality of services produced within the government.

The objective of these reforms is to counterpoint what the bureaucracy does and do something completely different. The bureaucracy is hierarchical and therefore a much more horizontal model of cooperation is needed. Where there is security and stability of employment, it will be necessary to call job security into question and arrive at a new status for civil servants. The idea is to say that the public servant should not have automatic security, performance must be taken into account. The guidelines and procedures must be applied to everyone according to the bureaucratic model, but there is a need to move towards another form of public administration that individualises programmes emerging from the idea of standardisation in order to move towards a much more individualised view of public policies. We move from a beneficiary who is conceived of as a "user" to a beneficiary who is conceived of as a "client". Where there is a monopoly, competition has to be introduced, which means that the public administration cannot do what it wants because it can be compared to other services.

To this end, we will introduce private sector management rules. The State must be subject to the same rules as business rules, including proving that it is efficient and effective, and accountability is required to ensure transparency in the use of funds. It is also necessary to introduce competition so that the administration can show that it is better than others in order to retain the privilege of providing the service. If various service providers or suppliers of goods are put in competition with each other, this will make it possible to obtain the best possible supply of that good or service, particularly in terms of costs. Will be introduced flexibility in the mode of administration of the public administration becoming much less functioning according to a pyramidal structure to be more horizontal and it will provide personalized services in line with the needs of people. On the other hand, the quality of services must be improved. For the proponents of new public management, in order to provide better quality services, it is necessary to adopt private management rules and to make public management more flexible. It is the combination of these different means that will help to optimize the structure. There is also a need to give more flexibility and flexibility to field staff not only as implementers and responsible for their actions. It is the transformation of a rule-based management system as the bureaucratic model does to a results-based management system. The new public management will not insist on how to work, but on the results achieved. People will be held accountable and if they do not achieve results, they can be punished.

The theory of the agency relates to situations in which people are bound by a contract. A person wants to outsource tasks to someone else. The person who delegates is called the "principal," and the people who are supposed to work for the principal are the "agents. Agency theory is concerned with the relationship between the "principal" and the "agents" who will accomplish the mission. There is a strong emphasis on asymmetry of information between the agent who is familiar with the field conditions and the principal. The officer knows much more about the task at hand than the principal. The question is how to ensure that the agent carries out his task as efficiently as possible, in the manner expected by the principal and how to control. If we drive by results and make sure that people internalize the need for results, it is the agent himself who becomes the guarantor of the achievement of results. The idea is to empower people and make sure that it is their adherence to the outcome that makes it the result of the services requested. This refers to extrinsic motivations. This is not based on the content of the work, but on the benefits. The new public management is attempting to respond to this problem through the policy of possible results and financial sanctions.

These objectives cut across the political spectrum. Very often, new public management makes the most progress when "left" parties are in power. When the "right-wing" parties are in power, it is a much more radical vision raising opposition with left-wing parties that support this opposition. This is not systematic, but these are configurations that are frequently found. The bureaucratic model is inefficient in some respects. The "left" model proposes a rationalization. This is more a model of maintaining public services than a model of drastic reductions in the size of the state.

Principles and Tools of New Public Management: An Overview[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

A New Public Management best-seller is a book by David Osborne and Ted Gaebler entitled Reinventing Government, How the Entrepreneurial Spirit is Changing the Public Sector, published in 1993. The idea is to radically and profoundly rethink the idea of reinventing government.

These authors distinguish eleven "theoretical" principles from which all the new public management tools can be derived:

  • It is the separation of strategic and operational objectives. Strategic issues should be left to the heads of service and operational issues to the field officers. One person should not care for both;
  • Power to the users ": development of community-based policies, i. e. policies that are controlled and sometimes managed by the users. The users must be given back to the centre. The previous model did the opposite;
  • Vive la concurrence ": introduction of the notion of" quasi-market "and benchmarking. The State must be removed from the public monopoly towards a quasi-market, which is a market for public services. Within the administration itself, we will compare the different departments in-between to see which one has the best performance. This helps to identify the best practices that will be applied to all services;
  • Priority to objectives ": introduction of the notion of" controlling "and transition from the legalist system to a result-oriented system;
  • What if there was a little interest in results ": introduction of the notion of" performance "and" return ". Public administration must become effective, efficient and effective in achieving results;
  • User needs first ": meet the needs of the user and not the administration. This is the introduction of the notion of "benefit" for users;
  • Earning money and not just spending it ": introduction of the concept of" profit "in the public sector, but also the concept of" value for money ";
  • Prevention is better than cure ": introduction of the notion of" anticipation ";
  • Less hierarchy, more participation ": introduction of a new hierarchical pyramid, as well as the concept of" user inclusion ". The user must be a stakeholder in the public administration;
  • The State to the rescue of the market, the market at the service of the State ": introduction of a new public-private partnership. The idea is to say that the state and the market should work in partnership. This is tantamount to refocusing the State's tasks on the users and the quality of the services provided;
  • A New Model of Government ": Refocusing State Missions.

Principles and Tools of New Public Management[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

In The New Public Management: Toolkit or paradigmatic change published in 1999 by Mönks, there are four principles of the new public management:

1) Improving the performance and effectiveness of the administration (the taxpayer must get value for money): this principle is focused on efficiency. You have to achieve the objectives, but be as economical as possible. Mönks insists on performance. There are two mechanisms suggested in the Mönks text:

  • To put on the market ": introduction of as many market mechanisms as possible (comparison of quality and costs, competitive tendering) and subcontracting to private operators. We're going to break the state monopoly and put the service on the market. At equal or comparable quality, it is the cheapest that must win the public contract. We are moving away from the annuity system, which would be a consequence of the state monopoly to enter a system of competitive tendering, which very often is not at all transparent. However, quality is very difficult to judge that the price. The risk of this system is to favour the "best market" offers and therefore the difficulty is to evaluate the choice. ;
  • Management by objectives ": service contracts specify the objectives and leave the choice of means to be decided on independently. The budget envelopes are part of a logic of results, namely that the budget envelope must be sufficient to achieve the objectives or else it raises the poor quality of work and asks the administration to be a good money manager. Timeframes are used to define when the objectives should be achieved. Performance indicators specifying the quantity and quality of services. But there is a risk of working for indicators, i. e. people in the field focus on performance indicators and less on other aspects of their work.

2) Adopting a more flexible organisation of work means moving from the rigid pyramid model to a more flexible model that leaves more room for the people in the field who are civil servants in public administration:

  • Separating roles and responsibilities between policies that set objectives and the public administration responsible for implementation: the policy sets very broad objectives, the senior public administration will translate them into more precise objectives on which operational effectiveness depends; give more operational responsibilities to local actors who must nevertheless be accountable for their results: there is the development of monitoring tools. These are tools that make it possible to have a much more precise vision of the work, but which requires a lot of time. These tools make it possible to benchmark and compare individuals among themselves. Indicators provide information on ways of working and indicators provide information on results. This makes it possible to identify best practices. There is a risk of imposing working methods, rules and procedures such as in the bureaucratic model. There would be some kind of backtracking;
  • abolish hierarchical levels: the idea is to have a more flexible work organisation which is not the bureaucratic pyramid with a hierarchical view of work and without initiative. With the new public management, individuals must take initiatives, be creative, develop new ways of working and for this reason we will give priority to teamwork with pre-established specifications. They must be accountable and answerable for a number of objectives. There is operational autonomy, which can sometimes be presented as an instrumentalised autonomy. It is about understanding, learning and innovation on the ground. Very often, in new public management, if the teams are horizontal, it works less well, which is why we tend to introduce team managers. One person is in charge of piloting the group.
  • questioning the status of civil servant: in order to motivate the civil servant, he or she will have to be put at risk, which means questioning the status of the civil servant. With the LPers, the civil servant may be dismissed and at least part of his or her salary must be linked to performance. Since the implementation of the LPers in Switzerland, 5% of the salary is linked to performance. We individualize part of the salary. This practice can raise a number of problems, namely the link between job security and quality of work, does it really mean that people must be genuinely insecure to motivate them, is it a link that can be observed empirically, can we imagine, as Weber said, that job security is a way of providing ontological security so that we can really do a good job? One may wonder whether endangering public servants is really the best way to increase public service motivation. Public service motivation is an intrinsic motivation, endangering will increase extrinsic motivation while for intrinsic motivation, endangering is ambiguous. One might also wonder what the long-term effect of questioning the status of civil servant is. In the short term, one can imagine that people are making more effort and commitment to achieve better results, but this can create long-term fatigue and pressure that can lead to phenomena that will affect the quality of work. These phenomena are observed in the field of social work and health.
  • Individualisation of contracts and working conditions: we will individualise the objectives in order to improve the quality of work. The way in which this will work is that the person's mission, i. e. his or her objectives, will be set out in a specification or agreement of objectives, and at the end of the year an evaluation will take place of these objectives, which may have financial consequences. This type of instrument was used in the postal service. A 2005 study showed that in all post offices in Switzerland, the vast majority of employees were evaluated at 100% pay, i. e. category B, a few rare cases had the letter A which increased pay or C which reduced pay. A "normal" curve appeared. The public administration does not produce in most cases any benefits, the salary package is based on 100% for all employees. This means that rewarding employees means penalizing others. In other words, since budget availability is decided in advance, there is no budgetary possibility to finance on merit. The post office insisted on the impossibility of implementing the merit pay system. The idea of individualising contracts can be counterproductive to teamwork. To earn more wages, you have to be more deserving than others who work in the same team. There may be perverse effects that can be observed because of this.
  • for subsidised institutions, performance-based renewable benefits contract: all institutions that receive state funding, like the worker, will have to prove their effectiveness if they wish their funding to be renewed. It means putting institutions at risk through service contracts. Generally, the amount of funding provided is reduced. There is the same leverage as for individuals, i. e. it is by putting institutions in financial precariousness that we will encourage them to achieve the results they expect.

3) Customer orientation and quality of services: users of the public administration are no longer beneficiaries or taxpayers becoming clients of the public administration, it will be necessary to take into account their point of view. There is also an orientation towards the quality of services. What defines quality work in the field of public administration? The notion of "quality" in public administration is a complex one. There are three tools:

  • market and satisfaction survey: customers will be asked to evaluate the quality of services, with the aim of improving the quality of the services provided. Everything will depend on the quality of satisfaction surveys. Satisfaction surveys give managers a lot of room for manoeuvre. The client can be used as a disciplinary tool to discipline public administration. It is possible to interpret customer dissatisfaction in an instrumental way. Quality is interpreted as customer satisfaction.
  • certifications (ISO, EDUQUA or others) as a guarantee of the quality of the work carried out: institutions seeking funding seek to obtain signals of the quality of the work carried out within them. Certification is the preferred signal in most cases. Certification requires proof that in all possible situations, the institution knows how to respond. The certification tool and a bureaucratic tool. It is a paradox, because it is a paradoxically bureaucratic certification tool for new public management. Very often, certifications have little to do with the actual work done in public administration or institutions. It's a marketing tool. The quality of the organization will be evaluated more than the quality of the service.
  • quality circles for continuous improvement of services: there are places in the institutions where quality can be discussed and debated, which can be used by everyone to improve the quality of services. A possible perverse effect is to know what their impact is. One of the perverse effects is to use quality circles as a tool for expressing frustration.

4) Citizen orientation: this is a very theoretical model that is rarely encountered in reality. The idea is to say that citizens should become co-producers of public services, not only because they have been asked to do so in a market or satisfaction survey, but also because they are involved and express themselves on the way in which the service is designed and delivered. The administration will involve the citizen. We are moving towards more participatory decision-making where citizens are co-producers of public services. It would be in the interest of a citizen-oriented approach if, when defining the quality of services, it were no longer the body that would decide, but rather the entirety of the persons concerned who would decide what the provision of public administration should be.

Models of New Public Management[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

This table shows that there is no single paradigm is that very often in the literature there are many different models of new public management. Most typologies generally correspond to the four previous models.

Ferlie et al. (1996) Mönks (1998) Bolgiani (2002)
Efficiency Model: competition and productive performance (service contracts) Efficient model Market Model
Model of downsizing and decentralization: decentralization of administrative responsibilities and thinning of the administration Organizational Flexibility Model Decentralized model
Research Excellence Model: culture supportive of learning processes and leadership Qualitative model
Public service orientation model: quality of service and customer satisfaction Participatory model Quality Model

Strengths and weaknesses of the NPM[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

In The Liberal bureaucracy. New public management and regulation published in 2004, Giauque is based on two empirical studies. It leads to a Manichean view of the new public management with a discourse, but a catastrophic reality at the opposite end of the discourse. The way in which public management is implemented means that promises are not kept.

The new public management emphasizes the operational autonomy of services. Giauque is not obstructing operational autonomy, but a strong dependence on public authorities and budgetary decisions. We are not operationally autonomous, but dependent because budget and survival depend on the achievement of objectives set by others. In the cases studied by Giauque, the objectives have been defined so strictly that the ways of working are dictated by the way in which the objectives have been defined. There is a very strong dependence on political powers.

New public management values individual initiatives, but when the initiative is risky, the observed compromise is that people do not take initiatives. There are withdrawal behaviours, the initiative is potentially a source of danger.

At the level of discourse, there is a strong emphasis on the quality of services, the new public management makes it possible to improve the quality of services, but when we look at the basis on which services are evaluated, in many cases the services are evaluated on their cost. The emphasis is placed on the quality of services, but in practice it is often possible to put more emphasis on efficiency, cost control and a willingness to spend as little as possible. There is often a contradiction that can arise and exist between the two elements of how to make quality at a lower cost. There is a great deal of tension to consider if the consequences of implementing new public management are empirically analysed. Often, public administration is controlled on the respect of budgets rather than the quality of services.

Giauque also looked at the performance indicators that were used to assess the quality of workers and the services provided by members of the public administration. He often observed a mismatch between the performance indicator and the reality on the ground. There may be a mismatch between the desire to promote the quality of services and performance indicators that do not allow for quality services to be provided only in certain cases.

The new public management emphasizes the personalization of services. Improving quality means meeting the demand of service providers. In a context where very often the emphasis is placed on reducing budgets, the result is not so much a personalisation of services as a standardisation of services.

We want to reward the most deserving, but since salary envelopes are already defined, we cannot afford to do so and merit-based salaries cannot be implemented. On the other hand, there is a willingness to encourage involvement, but there is uncertainty linked to the individual measurement of performance, but since these people are uncertain, in order not to endanger themselves, they will not take the initiative.

The will of the new public administration is to put people and services in competition with the idea of creating positive emulation. In reality, it is a spirit of competition that will become established, a negative emulation.

Everything Giauque says paints a picture of the new negative public management. A less Manichean view is to say that the new public management is in a field of tension that will depend on the context, the empirical example and the particular study we are facing. This voltage field is marked by three elements:

  • a desire to reduce costs and the willingness to improve the quality of services: in many cases, the drift we observe is that because costs are easy to observe and measure, we will insist on costs and because quality is much more difficult to measure, there is a tendency to focus more on controlling costs than on the more evasive notion of quality;
  • A tension between institutional directives and user expectations: anyone who is in an institution or working in a public administration receives directives. At the same time, this person is faced with a user who may have quite different expectations. How to proceed if institutional expectations are not the same as client expectations. This is a situation that can happen very often. When working in a public administration, the question arises as to who is the "king client", i. e. the institution or the beneficiary. The institution has more means of sanctioning than the beneficiary. What is frequently observed is a tendency to place more emphasis on institutional guidelines than on user expectations.
  • willingness to promote the involvement of people and a system that makes it possible to lose one's job: one can be afraid, be marked by situations of anxiety and uncertainty that prevent one from taking initiative. It is how to involve and motivate people while putting them in a context of insecurity and danger that makes it possible to encourage them to withdraw into themselves.

References[modifier | modifier le wikicode]