Response to "What's New About the NPM"

Essay by jamiejUniversity, Bachelor's August 2008

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Stephen Page's article, "What's New about the New Public Management? Administrative Change in the Human Services," is an analysis of the New Public Management (NPM) theory. Page analizes reforms in public administration throughout time. He concludes that (NPM) is "an integral part of the history of public administration rather than a stark departure from past traditions."Page questions whether a new generation of reforms replaced earlier traditions with universal post bureaucratic paradigm? To answer this question he analyzes the process and content of recent administrative reforms. He examines the historical roots of these reforms and compares them to (NPM). The two central questions he seeks to answer in regards to public administration is, "Do today's human services reforms represent discontinuous incremental developments in human services field?" As well as "which aspects of the reforms draw explicitly on the principles of (NPM)?" Page stated that a weakness to the (NPM) theory is that conditions which (NPM) explained existed in prior eras.

Catlaw argues this point and states, "NPM is a way of explaining phenomena that already existed in practice." (341/2007) The fact that these conditions existed in prior eras does not damage the (NPM) theory.

"New Public Management seeks to improve governmental performance by emphasizing customer service, decentralization, market mechanisms, cross-functional collaboration, and accountability for results." (Barzelay 1992; Caiden 1991; Osborne and Plastrik 1997; Peters 1996) A trend has emerged of governments giving public administrators more discretion to improve their agencies' performance. Proponents of New Public Management argue that the emphasis on performance is in contrast to earlier eras which relied upon centralized bureaucratic monopolies with strict regulations which dictated standardized services. Page states that skeptics of New Public Management make the argument that recent changes in public administration are not discontinuous departure of past traditions but rather an...