The rise and rise of the new public management
Since the 1970s a variety of changes have taken place in public service organisation and management. From the 1940s to the late 1970s the markets gave way to the state, in the 1980s and early 1990s the state almost gave way to the markets and at the turn of the century a Third Way is emerging characterised by public/private partnerships. In response to the variety of changes that have taken place, Hood (1991) made one of the first references to a new phrase, the 'New Public Management' (NPM), to label the changes. The central theme of this research is to characterise, map and explain the rise and rise of the NPM. This research overcame the central problem of the NPM — its characterisation, especially at the theoretical level of analysis. Different NPM typologies have arisen in which different NPM types may have taken on a 'spurious concreteness'. By this it is meant that scholars presuppose that the NPM exists and that their typologies have real meaning and empirical significance. This research has followed Barberis' (1998) advice and looked at the sharp end — the NPM in practice. This was achieved by the selection of a triple methodology which was applied to council housing management. The triple methodology refers to the selection of an appropriate research method at three levels of change, the macro (environment), meso (public service) and micro (organisation) levels. At the macro level the NPM and CCT literatures were reviewed, at the meso level two mapping studies were carried out and at the micro level case study work was conducted. CCT is linked to the NPM because it is one type of welfare privatisation (Wilson and Doig, 1995). Contained within the central theme of this research are five key issues: systematising NPM understanding, linking NPM characterisation to mapping and explaining NPM diffusion, improving understanding about quasi-market development, critically evaluating the NPM's impact and testing generalisability. The five key issues are significant because they conceptually, methodologically and empirically contribute to the development of public management. There are wider methodological and empirical contributions. Systematising NPM understanding is achieved by reviewing the NPM literature to conceptually classify existing NPM work. Linking NPM characterisation to mapping and explaining NPM diffusion is achieved through the methodological innovation of developing a NPM typology. The NPM typology is used to empirically reveal that the NPM exists and to map and explain variation in its diffusion. Variation is explained in terms of receptivity factors (Pettigrew, Ferlie and McKee, 1992). Improving understanding about quasi-market development is achieved by updating work on quasi-market emergence, the changing patterns of public service work and the challenge to accountability. A quasi-market is still emerging. There are cost reductions but at the price of worsening working conditions and the risk of reducing quality of service. Although there is political control and accountability at the organisation level, there is too much service user participation with too little effect. This empirical work critically evaluated the NPM's impact. Generalisability is evidenced by successfully applying the ideas generated in the NHS and education by Ferlie, Ashburner, Fitzgerald and Pettigrew (1996) to local authority housing.