A Stronger Public Sector? The New Public Enterprise

John Fenwick*, Lorraine Johnston

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The chapter proposes that a new public enterprise (NPE) now characterises developments in local policymaking and service delivery. The NPE places the local public sector in a leading role, either in the direct ‘contracting in’ of services previously contracted out to the private sector, or in the co-ordination of partnerships between public, private and voluntary sector providers. Such remunicipalisation is non-ideological in nature, and international in its scope, being prompted by pragmatic considerations of cost and effectiveness.

The discussion draws from the authors' cumulative primary research on local public services and regeneration and specifically from a series of interviews with local leaders and senior managers conducted in 2018 and 2019.

It was found that traditional conceptions of ‘public’ vs ‘private’ are largely outmoded. Contracting ‘in’ is practised even by those on the Right of the political spectrum. The public sector is a leader of local partnerships and it is no longer assumed that the private sector brings greater efficiency or effectiveness.

The term ‘new public enterprise’ is used in an innovative way to describe the changed relationship between public, private and voluntary sectors. This has significant implications for both practice and theory. The empirical prevalence of the NPE can readily be identified in the UK and internationally. Its theoretical implications are challenging but promising.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReimagining Public Sector Management
Subtitle of host publicationA New Age of Renewal and Renaissance?
EditorsJohn Diamond, Joyce Liddle
Place of PublicationBingley
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd
ISBN (Electronic)9781802620214, 9781802620238
ISBN (Print)9781802620221
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2022

Publication series

NameCritical Perspectives on International Public Sector Management
ISSN (Electronic)2045-7944

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