Lhawang Ugyel and Carsten Daugbjerg
The scope and intensity of policy transfer—defined as the process in which policies and institutions from one time and/or place are used in another time and/or place—has increased in the last two decades. An area where extensive policy transfer occurs is public sector reform. In particular, developing countries frequently draw heavily on New Public Management (NPM) practices originally designed for Western democracies. Perceived as best practices, NPM-related reforms influenced the good governance agenda for most developing countries in the late 1990s and early 2000s. They were based on market-like characteristics such as performance management systems and citizens’ charters. Developing countries have found these reforms irresistible, as they face a huge need to grow their economies and shrink their governments. Amidst the expansion of the practice of policy transfer, early studies assumed that a key to successful transfer was the transfer of policy models in their entirety. However, recent research – including our own article in Policy & Politics – suggests that local adaption is essential for success. Continue reading Successful policy transfer and public sector reform in developing countries
Ruth Dixon and Thomas Elston
Over 97 per cent of English local authorities cooperate with one another, providing common public services across separate council areas. Ruth Dixon and Thomas Elston consider how and why this occurs. In a follow-up to their previous post, they find that propensity to collaborate is unpredictable, but partner choice can be partly explained by geographical proximity of councils and similarities in organizational and resource characteristics. Contrary to the view that collaboration is a wholly ‘rational’ strategy chosen simply to improve service costs or quality, therefore, this analysis suggests that both efficiency and legitimacy influenced reform choices. Continue reading Efficiency and legitimacy in inter-local agreements: why collaboration has become a default choice among councils
Simon Bishop and Justin Waring
Cutting ribbons on gleaming new buildings, politicians have long sought to bolster their public image through association with new facilities developed as the flagships of public service reform. ‘Out with the old and in with the new’ is the clearly intended message. But beyond rhetoric of ‘cutting edge design’ and ‘state of the art working’, there is very rarely any deeper conversations of how new buildings affect the lives of the employees and members of the public who use them daily. Even within more detailed deliberations over new facilities by planners and service managers, the focus tends to be on how new spaces are going to work functionally – cost, technical and ergonomic features of building projects are the predominant concerns. Continue reading Looking into the hybrid spaces of public service reform – what are the implications for staff and users?
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