Public Management, Rhetoric, and Culture

Christopher Hood

in The Art of the State

Published in print February 2000 | ISBN: 9780198297659
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599484 | DOI:
Public Management, Rhetoric, and Culture

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Returns to the general question of what sort of science public management is or can be and how cultural theory can contribute to that science. If public management is (as suggested earlier) dominated by rhetorical forms of argument, cultural theory can help take one step further than conventional analyses of rhetoric by differentiating rhetorical ‘families’—this theme is explored in this chapter, which looks at what a cultural‐theory framework can add to the analysis of public management as an arena for rhetoric, and aims to do three things. First, it briefly expands on a now familiar argument (noted in the first chapter)—that shifts in what counts as received ideas in public management work through a process of fashion and persuasion, not through proofs couched in strict deductive logic, controlled experiments, or even systematic analysis of all available cases. Second, and more ambitiously, it aims to bring together the analysis of rhetoric in public management with the four ways of doing public management that were explored in Part II, to show how each of those approaches can have its own rhetoric, in the sense of foreshortened proofs, analogies, and parables; the aim is to put a cultural‐theory perspective to work in a different way, to identify multiple rhetorics of public management. Third, it briefly develops the suggestion made in Chapters 1 and 2 that shifts (change) in received ideas about how to organize typically occur in a reactive way, through rejection of existing arrangements with their known faults, rather than through a positive process of reasoning from a blank slate.

Keywords: analogies; change; cultural theory; fashion; multiple rhetorics; parables; persuasion; proof; public management; reaction; received ideas; rhetoric

Chapter.  8292 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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