Category Archives: Public sector management

The potential side-effects of mediatisation: a case study of the politics of German higher education

Andres Friedrichsmeier & Frank Marcinkowski
Andres Friedrichsmeier & Frank Marcinkowski

By Andres Friedrichsmeier & Frank Marcinkowski

Decision makers, be it in the field of higher education politics or in other fields of public policy making, typically claim to be processing a great deal of information. To a substantial degree, this includes news media information. Nonetheless, the same decision makers also pride themselves on basing their decisions on more reliable grounds than a vacillating media coverage. Almost two decades of public management reforms improved the availability of objective measurements and performance data, and introduced quasi markets to feed in public demands. Matching public expectations no longer necessitates resorting to news media and its representation of a public attention that is skewed by news values. Or is it the other way around? Is the influence of news media on decision making rather on the rise, resulting from an increasing reflexivity of public governance and a related need for direction that is no longer provided by the state? On the face of it, the significance of news media coverage is boosted by a new imperative of marketing the value of public sector outcomes. The need for public marketing results from the use of economic measures in public sector producing qualitative outputs that are difficult to attach a price tag to.

But these new imperatives of going public evaded focus in times of high hopes in the capability of management controls to objectify public sector governance. But they come with potential side-effects. An illustration of the kind of side-effects that are to be expected and of how to investigate them empirically is provided by Andres Friedrichsmeier and Frank Marcinkowski in their Policy & Politics article: The mediatisation of university governance: a theoretical and empirical exploration of some side effects. Continue reading The potential side-effects of mediatisation: a case study of the politics of German higher education

Why approach contracted-out public services as a ‘strategic action field’?

James Rees, Rebecca Taylor and Christopher Damm
James Rees, Rebecca Taylor and Christopher Damm

by James Rees, Rebecca Taylor and Chris Damm

Researching the field of UK employment services

The research reported in our article UK Employment Services: understanding provider strategies in a dynamic strategic action field was carried out in 2012 as part of the ESRC-funded Third Sector Research Centre’s programme on the third sector’s role in public services. From the outset, we were aware that the third sector had long played a significant role in the mixed economy of employment services, and this was at a point when the UK Coalition government’s new Work Programme was being implemented. Our key interest was to explore the ways in which the third sector was involved in this new programme, and to examine to what extent its contribution could be seen as distinctively different to that of other sectors.

Internationally, few studies have directly addressed the role of sector of organisations, and where they do, they rarely do so in a comparative manner: focusing for instance on the third sector in isolation. Instead, we set out to explore how private, Continue reading Why approach contracted-out public services as a ‘strategic action field’?

The Autonomy of National officials in the European Commission

Jarle Trondal, Zuzana Murdoch and Benny Geys
Jarle Trondal, Zuzana Murdoch and Benny Geys

by Jarle Trondal, Zuzana Murdoch and Benny Geys

A longer version of this article was originally published on LSE’s EUROPP blog 

National officials working in international bureaucracies regularly invoke the fear that member-states strategically use such officials for influencing decision-making to their advantage. Using ones national officials as ‘Trojan horses’ naturally implies a lack of autonomy of such officials working in international organizations, which critically threatens the independence of the organization as such. While national officials’ potential lack of autonomy has been extensively discussed in both academic and public circles, the underlying mechanisms are less well understood. Our analysis takes one step in this direction.

A key factor that is often brought forward to explain any (potential) lack of autonomy among national officials in international Continue reading The Autonomy of National officials in the European Commission

Professor Big Brother and his radical students – who should we fear most?

by Akil N Awan, Lecturer in Political Violence & Terrorism at Royal Holloway

This post was originally published on The Conversation blog on 29th January 2015

The Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill 2014-15, having been rushed through the House of Commons with alarming speed and ease, has passed its second reading in the House of Lords. It is now in the final committee stages and on course to become law within a matter of weeks.

Although peers rejected a raft of amendments that would have effectively brought the “snooper’s charter” in through the backdoor, the addition of this major piece of terrorism legislation to our existing terror laws still has serious implications and should be of real concern to us all. Not least because it co-opts Continue reading Professor Big Brother and his radical students – who should we fear most?

Public–private partnerships, management capacity and public service efficiency

Tom Entwhistle and Rhys Andrews
Tom Entwhistle and Rhys Andrews

By Tom Entwistle and Rhys Andrews

Caught between falling tax revenues and increasing expenditures, governments across the world are looking for new ways of extracting economy and efficiency from the public sector. As in the past, the claim that business can deliver public services more efficiently than the state, provides a key inspiration for reform.

Governments can engage the private sector in public service delivery in a number of different ways. They can open clearly specified functions – like cleaning, refuse collection or grounds maintenance – to a competitive tendering process and then contract with the organisation which promises best value.  Alternatively, they may externalise – or, in more loaded terms, ‘privatise’ – the delivery of a whole service, Continue reading Public–private partnerships, management capacity and public service efficiency

What impact do mayors have on the cities that elect them?

David Sweeting
David Sweeting

This originally appeared on the LSE British Politics and Policy blog.

Greater Manchester will become the next urban area in the UK to directly elect a mayor, following Bristol who first elected a mayor in 2012. One of the frustrations in the debate around directly elected mayors, however, is the lack of empirical evidence around which to evaluate their impact. Here, David Sweeting presents some early analysis of data from both before and after the introduction of the mayoral system in Bristol.

Recently George Osborne announced the creation of a ‘metro-mayor’ for Greater Manchester. In doing so he has joined a long line of heavyweight politicians who have endorsed the idea of directly elected mayors as at least part of the solution to issues in urban governance in English cities. From as far back as Michael Heseltine in the early 1990s, via Tony Blair, and through David Cameron the idea of a single figure to govern our Continue reading What impact do mayors have on the cities that elect them?

Will policymakers ever really listen to the public?

Amanda Crompton
Amanda Crompton

Amanda Crompton from Nottingham University Business School tracks the success or otherwise of public participation in transport infrastructure projects. This article is now available on fast track.

Public participation in policy decisions has undoubtedly improved in recent years, yet the system is still far from perfect. Formal or “top-down” mechanisms continue to serve as a starting point, but how they interact with or are complemented by informal or “bottom-up” alternatives is to this day something of a lottery. My latest research, examining the proposed High-Speed 2 (HS2) rail link between London Continue reading Will policymakers ever really listen to the public?