From reluctant to compelled reformers? Reflections on three decades of public management reform in France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain

Edoardo Ongaro

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

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose – This chapter addresses a range of questions about public management reform in ‘Napoleonic’ administrative systems. It starts by addressing the descriptive question about what trajectories of reform occurred, and then explores what has been the fundamental stance toward new public management (NPM) (rejected, imported and implemented, or filtered and translated). I also discuss how reforms have changed the relative power base and role interpretation of the main actors in public management reform, and analyze the strategic approaches employed toward the reform of public management in these countries. Finally, I assess some key strategic alternatives for policy-makers as regards the reform of public management in the face of the long-term effects of the fiscal crisis that has struck these countries since 2010. Design/Methodology/Approach – This chapter is based on a combination of literature reviews and opinions from the experts in the field who are surveyed – selected experts are all renowned scholars or leading practitioners, knowledgeable of public sector reform in the countries subject to investigation. Findings – The chapter concludes that NPM-inspired reforms have to some extent been attempted; particularly, the role of tenured officials seems to have changed substantially, especially in their relationship with elected officials. However, NPM doctrines have been mainly filtered and translated into the local politico-administrative dynamics and codes of interpretation, and quite often they have been hollowed out. Particularly, the role of tenured officials seems to have changed substantially, especially in their relationship with elected officials. In terms of strategic approaches, there seems to have been much “maintaining” and some “modernizing,” although with important differences between countries (Italy being an especially difficult case to classify). The fiscal crisis and the changes in European governance might lead to a profoundly different state of affairs in which the interconnection between changes in European Union (EU) governance and public sector reform might become more closely interconnected than they used to be. Research limitations/Implications – The contribution is mainly speculative, and urges for empirical research to be undertaken, particularly on the issue of the interconnection between changes in EU governance and public sector reform. Originality/Value – The contribution provides a distinctive and critical perspective on public sector reform in an underinvestigated cluster of countries.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmerging and potential trends in public management: an age of austerity
EditorsJohn Diamond, Joyce Liddle
Place of PublicationBingley, UK
PublisherEmerald
Pages105-127
Number of pages218
ISBN (Print)978-0857249975
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Publication series

NameCritical perspectives on international public sector management
PublisherEmerald

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