Public Management and Governance

The role of public management within public governance

The areas of application of public governance and public management overlap in many respects, but they also have a number of differences. The main distinction lies in discussing the “ends and means,” that is, in the orientation towards the process and the outcome in public policy-making (Bovaird & Loeffler, 2016). Since public governance implies power relations and control in a broad sense, the current governance approach focuses on how actors interact with each other in achieving results. This process can include creating and ensuring a legal framework, educational programs, public service announcements, and other means. New public management, on the contrary, is result-oriented. Since the final goal of both governance and managerial approaches is to improve the lives of citizens, their cooperation and interaction are essential.

The main paradigms of public policy-making and the main differences between them

The New Public Management (NPM) paradigm originated in the Western world in the 1980s, driven by the changes and fiscal challenges that were taking place. The goal of the modern public policy-making strategy is to make the public administration process more efficient, transparent, and convenient for citizens receiving public services (Bovaird & Loeffler, 2016). Unlike the “old public administration” (PA) paradigm that preceded it, the new movement gave managers much broader powers and credentials. By contrast, the role of politicians and traditional practitioners has been redefined in the NPM. In the NPM, modernizing the public sector also implied redefining the state’s role and minimizing bureaucratic control. The paradigm shift of public policy-making has found both supporters and critics in the public arena.

In what ways are politicians and public sector bureaucrats likely to behave that undermine the achievement of social or public welfare? How might this behavior be controlled to minimize the damage it causes?

Politics at various levels — global, national, regional, and local — can influence the public sector. One of the consequences of the intervention of politicians and bureaucrats in public decision-making is their ideological involvement and lobbyism, and pragmatic settling of their own goals. Thus, the decisions taken in the international arena may adversely affect both national interests and the dynamics of the local community’s life (Jackson, 2016). Decisions at the national and regional levels are seriously dependent on the program of political parties and the ideology shared by politicians. The strategy of New Public Management, in turn, proposed the imposition of restrictions on the politicians’ opportunity to influence the public decision-making process. In the NPM, the leading role in the public sector is given to managers and other groups of experts.

Comparison of the four risks of reform

Macro-level models and reform strategies range from country to country. There are, however, four common risks for the system’s reform. The first of the generally accepted risks is that reforms are not always beneficial and instead, on the contrary, can entail high costs and losses. Over the past few decades, transparency has become one of the leading principles for the functioning of the public sector. However, excessive openness can also be risky.

Another potential problem conjugate with reform from above is the misuse of performance information. Here, the particular risk is associated with achieving statistical goals resulting in the outcome’s expense (Manning & Lau, 2016). The fourth risk is connected to the first and warns the government from the imprudent and rapid implementation of reforms. Seeking popular support, the state risks not to fulfill its promises if the reform does not bring the expected results.

In what circumstances might realized strategies be more likely to stem from planned intended strategies than from emergent processes?

One of the most exciting perspectives on strategic management and planning was proposed in the 1980s and 1990s by Henry Mintzberg. The academician argued that in practice, only a small number of intended strategies are realized. According to Mintzberg, most of the implemented strategies were not planned but emergent. According to the scholar, emergent strategies are rooted in experience and practice and meet the interests of actors. At the same time, the opportunity to create strategies has been reassigned from planners to managers (Bovaird, 2016, pp. 138-139). However, in some cases, for example, in politics, long-term strategies are needed to enable governments to work in the long term. Thus, for essential government projects, good strategic management is better suited than emergent processes.


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Bovaird T. & Loeffler E. (2016) Understanding public management and governance. In T. Bovaird & E. Loeffler (Eds.) Public management and governance (3d ed., pp. 32-51). Routledge.

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