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Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Public Management Review

For a Special Issue on
The New Public Management: dead or still alive and co-existing? State of play at 40+

Abstract deadline
01 August 2022

Manuscript deadline
15 January 2023

Cover image - Public Management Review

Special Issue Editor(s)

Sorin Dan, University of Vaasa, Finland
[email protected]

David Špaček, Masaryk University, Czech Republic
[email protected]

Per Lægreid, University of Bergen, Norway
[email protected]

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The New Public Management: dead or still alive and co-existing? State of play at 40+

As the public management literature is under constant development, important theoretical and empirical questions arise about the extent of the novelty of these developments and their ability to influence public management theory and practice. This becomes even more urgent given the continuous changes in the public sector, the redefinition of its boundaries, and the economic, political, and social challenges influencing current public service delivery. COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine are currently putting additional pressure on public finances and public services with direct implications on public management practice. They have raised discussions about turbulent problems and continuous disruptions the public sector has to face and about the possibilities and capacities of the public sector to cope with them (e.g., Ansell et al., 2021).

Considering these challenges, and the significant influence of NPM on public management theory and practice over time, it is important to take stock of the current state of play of NPM. Recent research suggests that NPM may still co-exist, be layered upon and/or compete with other reform trajectories and framings (Torfing et al., 2020). This can be observed in real world public administration reform programs and practices (Špaček, 2018). The layering effect stems from the observation that a shift from one public sector reform trajectory to another is not linear and rarely complete (Pollitt and Bouckaert, 2017). Moreover, due to institutional embeddedness, existing ideas and practices may continue to exert influence over novel institutional arrangements (Christensen, Lægreid and Røvik, 2020).

In view of these observations, the central question of this special issue is:

What is the current state of NPM scholarship and how relevant are NPM-style reforms and practices to current public sector reform programs?

The special issue aims to examine this overarching question by shedding light on the following two inter-connected sub-themes:

I. The relationship between NPM in public management scholarship and NPM in public management practice

Public management scholarship has been increasingly critical of NPM to the point of considering it defunct and passé, but in practice, public organizations across all continents continue to use NPM concepts, practices and measures (Dan and Pollitt, 2015; Hammerschmid et al., 2019; Pollitt, 2016; Pollitt and Dan, 2013). Moreover, the language of NPM has persisted over time, such that key NPM terms and phrases such as decentralization, managerial autonomy, accountability for results, management expertise, management instruments, performance, results-based management, outputs, customer focus, economy, efficiency, effectiveness, to name just a few, continue to be used. They may be used both as they were originally understood within NPM and with an altered and adapted meaning in combination with other terminology that has gained in popularity over the years.

Possible research questions:

  1. Given the existing scholarly critique of NPM, why do public organizations continue to use NPM? What can explain this disconnect and what implications does it have for public administration and management scholarship?
  2. Do differences concern NPM as a reform trajectory or distinctions can be made depending on the type of NPM concept, practice or measure?
  3. What have been the results of NPM-style reforms and to what extent do they include societal and democratic outcomes that go beyond the intended NPM measures of economy, efficiency and effectiveness?
  4. Is there a dark side of NPM and, in that case, how might it be conceptualized, classified and analyzed? What is the legacy of NPM? Is NPM merely an (unfortunate) record in the history of administrative thought or more nuanced analyses and interpretations are warranted in view of developments in public management scholarship, new empirical research and current public management practice?

II. The relationship between NPM and other reform trajectories and framings in view of the complexity, hybridity and layering of the current public sector reform landscape 

Considering the layering effect between NPM and other reform trajectories and framings, such as public value (Faulkner and Kaufman, 2017), neo-Weberian state (Lynn, 2008), digital-era governance (Dunleavy et al., 2006), new public governance (Osborne, 2010), public sector innovation (De Vries, Bekkers and Tummers, 2015) or public service logic (Osborne et al., 2022), it is important to better understand the interplay between these public sector reform framings and the NPM. 

Possible research questions:

  1. Given the complexity and hybridity of the current public sector reform landscape, what is the layering effect between the NPM and other reform framings and trajectories?
  2. How are NPM concepts, practices and measures combined with concepts, practices and measures of the neo-Weberian state, digital-era governance, public value, new public governance, public sector innovation or public service logic?
  3. For what purposes may the layering and co-existence of different reform trajectories and framings be useful? Is a hybridization of trajectories preferable and/or inevitable and why?
  4. What implications do the layering and co-existence of different reform trajectories/framings have for public administration and management theory and practice?

Please see the timeline and Submission Instructions below for guidance on the types of paper accepted.

Submission Instructions

We invite authors to submit both theoretical and empirical papers that address the theme of the special issue, and invite contributors to address one or more of the research questions outlined above. We are particularly interested in papers that provide new theoretical and empirical insights on the current state of play of NPM scholarship and practice. We are especially interested in contributions that review, analyze, or assess multiple NPM concepts, practices or measures, rather than focus on descriptive cases alone. We expect contributions to provide an analysis of the present state of NPM and an analytical discussion of the implications that the present state of NPM has for the future of the reform trajectory specifically and for public management theory and practice generally.

Timeline

25 April 2022: Public Management Review open call for the special issue

1 August 2022: Submission of 600-word abstracts (excluding references). Abstracts must be submitted by email to [email protected] by the deadline in order to be considered

1 September 2022: Review of abstracts. Authors informed about acceptance, necessary revisions, or rejection

15 January 2023: Submission of full articles for accepted abstracts. Full articles must be submitted via ScholarOne. Please select the specific title of this special issue.

1 April 2023: First review of full articles. Authors informed about acceptance, necessary revisions, or rejection

15 June 2023: Resubmission of articles (2nd revision)

15 August 2023: Second review of (revised) articles complete

1 October 2023: Resubmission of (revised) articles

1 December 2023: Electronic publication

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article

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