Contemporary Public Management: A New Global Paradigm?

Christopher Hood

in The Art of the State

Published in print February 2000 | ISBN: 9780198297659
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599484 | DOI:
Contemporary Public Management: A New Global Paradigm?

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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. Critically discusses the pervasive ideas of modernization and global convergence in a cultural‐theory framework, suggesting there are more forces for divergence and less common ground on what modernity means in matters of organization than is commonly recognized. It argues that modernization is a rhetorically successful idea because when the powerful but implicit metaphor of technological development that underlies it is carried over into human organization it is inherently ambiguous—so it lends itself to quite different and contradictory ideas about the wave of the future that fit with each of the world views identified by cultural theory. Further, it argues that a vision of global transformation of public management into a convergent modern style is likely to be exaggerated because it ignores powerful forces of path‐dependency and self‐disequilibration—i.e. the capacity of management reform initiatives to produce the opposite of their intended result. The main sections of the chapter are: Modern, Global, Inevitable? The Claim of a New Paradigm in Public Management; Public‐Management Modernization as Deep Change; Public‐Management Modernization as Irreversible Change; Public‐Management Modernization as Convergent Change; Public‐Management Modernization as Beneficent Change; and Modernization—or ‘Fatal Remedies’?

Keywords: change; contemporary public management; cultural theory; divergence; global convergence; modernization; path‐dependency; public management; self‐disequilibration

Chapter.  9623 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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