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Discuss how the tendency of New Public Management has impacted on decision making in UK public policy.

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Introduction

Discuss how the tendency of New Public Management has impacted on decision making in UK public policy. New Public Management is generally used to describe a management culture that emphasises upon the citizen or customer as being central, as well as having accountability for results. It also suggests organizational structures and promotes decentralized control, many different types of service delivery mechanisms, including quasi-markets with public and private service providers competing for resources. New Public Management does not suggest that a government should stop performing certain tasks. Although the New Public Management often is associated with such a perspective on a policy level, New Public Management is not about whether tasks should be undertaken or not. It is about getting things done better. New Public Management was devised as a means to improve efficiency and responsiveness to political changes. Its origins were in parliamentary democracies with excessively strong executive powers, centralized governments, and not much administrative law. In this setting, New Public Management embodies the idea of a chain of contracts leading to a single ministerial person who is interested in getting better results within a sector over which he or she has significant and relatively unchallenged control. One area of reform that illustrates many of the New Public Management principles is the creation of QUANGOs (Quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations) ...read more.

Middle

Operational objectives of managers within the private sector have always been considered as geared towards maintaining a position within the marketplace, thinking competitively and are more willing to innovate. Whereas the public sector manager would be more concerned with stability and, according to Liblom (1959) to maintain the status quo consistent with the society's norms. These approaches may be termed, as 'incrementalism' and 'rationalism' and defined as follows: * Incrementalism is where planning tends to be 'bottom up', with managers responding to their departmental needs and acting within long-standing practices and assumptions * Rationalism provides a basis of evaluation for decisions already taken and those being considered and a stimulus for longer-term thinking.5 The incrementalist school of thought, as articulated by Lindblom recognises that rationalist approaches can be problematic: "Let's admit that we live in a world of partisanship, constituencies and special interests...few of which represent the viewpoint of doing what is best for society at large with available resources."6 The rationalist approach is the traditional "planned" approach: * A desired future state is defined. * The activities and resources required to achieve it are defined and allocated Rationalism favours finite, project-based development, requiring the agreement of parties, strong definition of objectives and co-ordination of resources. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Best Value regime encourages, and in some respects enforces, a move away from incrementalism and towards rational planning. This emphasis on planning is a recurring theme in public management reform, and has been tried before in UK local government as well as in other domains, including for example the US federal government.7 The elements of the Best Value framework that emphasise rationalism rather than incrementalism include: * The duty to publish targets and plans; the requirement to consult with external stakeholders. * The need to scan the market for external service providers. * And processes of external audit and inspection that check whether the required planning procedures have been followed and targets achieved. It is therefore important to examine the extent to the Best Value regime encourages authorities to adopt more 'rational' forms of strategy formulation. While the new public management approach may not be a panacea for the problems of the public sector, a careful and selective adaptation of some elements to selected sectors may be beneficial. The public sector has been completely rearranged as a result of the tendency towards New Public Management and decision making within UK public policy has changed drastically, there now exists a much more formal and planned approach. ...read more.

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