Arwin Van Buuren, Jenny Lewis, Guy Peters, William Voorberg
In recent years, policy makers and administrators have shown increasing interest in design approaches to address policy problems. Design methods offer innovative perspectives on persistent policy problems (e.g. climate change; ageing population; urbanization etc.). Given the enormous influx of design toolboxes, design approaches and design steps, there is a search for an ‘ultimate’ design approach for public sector problems. But there are different approaches that can be used and which have different strengths.
In our introduction to the special issue on design and public policy we distinguish three rather different design approaches in public sector design. Continue reading Introduction to the Special Issue on the potential of design to improve public policy and administration
For many organisations providing important public services, such as education, health care or community services, non-governing boards serve as the primary accountability mechanisms for daily management. The ‘boardisation of the public sector’, as Wilks described this, has evolved considerably. In my country of residence the Netherlands, for instance, the guesstimation is that we have almost 50,000 positions on those boards, six times as many as in democratically elected local councils. A large proportion of those positions have been created in the recent past. This would suggest that the board model is a major success.
Continue reading The Role of Public Sector Boards
Ian Kirkpatrick, Andrew Sturdy, and Gianluca Veronesi
A recent study on the impact of management consultants on public service efficiency, published in Policy & Politics, prompted this letter from the authors calling for a moratorium on their use until effective governance is established.
Open letter to the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
2nd July, 2018
Dear Mr Hunt,
Re Calling for a moratorium on the use of external management consultants in the NHS until effective governance is established
We recently conducted independent research on the use of external management consultants in the NHS in England. This was subjected to peer review to establish the rigour of its analysis and published in an academic journal (Policy & Politics). Since then, it was mentioned in a parliamentary debate (23rd April, 2018, Hansard Volume 639) and widely reported in the media (21st February, 2018), including in The Times, which has also seen this letter. Continue reading Policy & Politics authors call for a moratorium on the use of management consultants in the NHS until effective governance is established
Chris Mason and Michael Moran
Social enterprise has emerged as an important vehicle of public sector reform globally but has received particular attention from policymakers in ‘liberal regimes’ such as the UK and Australia.
In our recent Policy & Politics article we set out to understand why two similar policy contexts – loosely-shared political cultures, institutional arrangements and importantly a common language – ended up engaging differently with a common policy idea, social enterprise.
To do so, we developed a unique policy data set constructed around social enterprise as it applied to a broad range of policy fields – from health and social care to resourcing the non-profit and voluntary sector – and policy initiatives. Continue reading Mother tongue? Policy language, social enterprise, the UK and Australia
Huanming Wang, Rui Mu and Shuyan Liu
Since the late 1970s, governments in many countries have adopted privatisation reforms, including contracting-out public services, transferring functions and responsibilities to the private sectors, and selling enterprises to private interests. The practice of privatisation in some developing countries has led to the problem of unequal treatment. For instance, many local governments in China outsourced their public services (e.g. public bus services, water supply and waste disposal services) to private companies. This included the delegation of operations entirely to these private entities. Government subsidies were allocated to the private operators, but these subsidies could not cover the full costs incurred by those private operators.. In this context, the private operators had to concentrate their services in densely populated areas and neglect the needs of more sparsely populated areas, resulting in the inadequate provision of services in the latter areas. As a result of this, some local governments withdrew from these privatised arrangements in order to ensure a more equal provision of services.
Our recent Policy & Politics article explores whether and to what extent privatisation and its reversal influence public service equity in China. Our paper focuses on public bus services in China, the provision of which has been subject to both privatisation and subsequent re-nationalisation, and draws upon an extensive programme of research that covered 245 cities. The Coefficient of Variation (CV) method was used to measure equity, and the multiple-regression method was adopted to test the relationship between privatisation and equity. Continue reading Has privatisation influenced public service equity? Evidence from China
Ian Kirkpatrick, Andrew Sturdy, and Gianluca Veronesi
Few topics have provoked as much debate and controversy in many western societies as the growth in public spending on management consultants. In the UK’s public healthcare sector: the National Health Service (NHS), this spending more than doubled from £313 million in 2010 to £640 million in 2014. Understandably, it is under constant scrutiny and there are considerable pressures to cut the use of management consultants, but spending remains high. Management consultants provide advice on strategy, organisation, financial planning and assist with the implementation of new information technology. Frequently, they promise significant improvements in efficiency. According to the main industry body in the UK, the Management Consultancies Association (MCA), for every £1 spent on consulting fees, clients can expect £6 in return. However, as shown in a study we conducted recently, published in Policy & Politics, the use of management consultancy in English NHS hospital trusts is more likely to result in inefficiency.
Continue reading Using management consultancy brings inefficiency to the NHS
Eva Heims and Martin Lodge
The idea of ‘consumer engagement’ has become a central theme in UK economic regulation. Regulators are demanding it, regulated companies are claiming to be pursuing it – but nobody quite knows what ‘it’ (i.e. consumer engagement’) might actually represent. So what does research on consumer engagement tell us?
In our recent Policy & Politics article on Customer Engagement in UK water regulation, we argue that the idea of consumer representation in UK utility regulation is, of course, not particularly new. The ‘old’ age of publicly owned utilities was characterised by a range of consumer representative bodies. While some managed to survive into the age of privatisation, the key emphasis has been on relying on regulatory bodies themselves to play a consumer representation function since the 2000s. But since the late noughties, putting the consumer at the heart of regulation has become a central theme in UK utility regulation and water regulators in the UK have recently experimented with different mechanisms of customer engagement. Continue reading Should regulators engage consumers in decision-making? Lessons from UK water regulation