New book: Theory and practice of public sector reform

9781138887411Theory and Practice of Public Sector Reform offers readers differing theoretical perspectives to help examine the process of public sector reform, combined with an overview of major trends in the core areas of the functioning of the public sector. Essential for students of public sector reform, with contributions by Olsen, Hood, Bouckaert. Osborne, Klijn, Peters and many others, written as a liber amicorum for Walter Kickert,

25 years of NPM literature: Broader but not deeper

PSRIn this article in the Political Studies Review with Dion Curry, we use bibliometric analysis to track the breadth and depth of the concept of New Public Management as it has developed in the 25 years since the coining of the term, in order to provide a deeper understanding of how academics have engaged with the subject. It looks at the breadth of the literature in terms of whether it has spread to new journals or academic disciplines and depth in terms of whether articles on New Public Management engage with new research on the subject. It is shown that the breadth of the literature has increased, but there has been no significant deepening. Download here: A bibliometrics approach to understanding conceptual breadth, depth and development: The case of New Public Management. Political Studies Review.

Public administration reforms in Europe: The view from the top

The fiHammerschmid Publicnal volume of the COCOPS project has now been published. With 42 authors, 17 countries covered, and based on a survey of 6700 top civil servants in Europe it offers a comprehensive empirical overview of current public sector reforms in Europe. Click here for the leaflet and for the publisher’s website. This book explores the impacts of New Public Management (NPM)-style reforms in Europe from a uniquely comparative perspective. It examines and analyses empirical findings regarding the dynamics, major trends and tools of administrative reforms, with special focus on the diversity of top executives’ perceptions about the effects of those reforms.

COCOPS dataset now open access

A version of the dataset from the COCOPS top public executive survey, with responses from over 7000 top central government executives in 21 countries, on public sector reform, managerial tools and behaviours, is now available open access through the Gesis social science data archive. Some restrictions still apply to the full dataset. Please use the data, and the COCOPS researchers are open to all kinds of research collaborations.

Moving to KU Leuven

d3f4baac-37fa-410d-847b-4fd6d9ecba9aI will be moving to KU Leuven on Oct. 1st. After eight years in Rotterdam, I decided to move to KU Leuven, Belgium, which is also where I received my PhD in 2004. Leuven offered me a Research Professorship (BOF ZAP Onderzoeksprofessor), which is a special position paid for through a University fund, and which allows me to build up a research team in Leuven. My host in Leuven will be the Public Governance Institute/Instituut voor de Overheid. I will join a team of PA scholars and political scientists – Geert Bouckaert, Annie Hondeghem, Marleen Brans, Trui Steen, Steven Van Hecke, Bart Maddens, Joep Crompvoets, Bruno Broucker, and Frankie Schram. My research will continue to focus on interaction between citizens and public services, performance, trust, and socialisation of new civil sservants.

PAR symposium: An experimental approach to public administration

‘Generating Usable Knowledge through an Experimental Approach to Public Administration’ is the introduction to our symposium in PAR on experimental methods in public administration. It shows how using experimental methods generates not only research that is empirically credible, but also relates to the real world of public administration. The ten articles in the symposium subject classic public administration theories or hypotheses that have been generated in nonexperimental research to rigorous testing using experimental methods. The first group of articles consists of studies with citizens who interact with government. The second group consists of three studies with public officials. Read the full  intro here.

Who is blamed for public service failure after contracting? Experimental evidence

Theories of blame suggest that contracting out public service delivery reduces citizens’ blame of politicians for service failure. In this article in Public Administration Review, Oliver James, Sebastian Jilke, Carolyn Petersen and I use an online experiment with 1,000 citizen participants to estimate the effects of information cues summarizing service delivery arrangements on citizens’ blame of English local government politicians for poor street maintenance. Participants were randomized to one of four cues: no information about service delivery arrangements, politicians’ involvement in managing delivery, delegation to a unit inside government managing delivery, and delegation through a contract with a private firm managing delivery. The politicians managing delivery cue raises blame compared to citizens having no information. However, the contract with a private firm cue does not reduce blame compared to either no information or the politicians managing delivery cue. Instead, the delegation to a unit inside government cue reduces blame compared to politicians managing delivery, suggesting that delegation to public managers, not contracting, reduces blame in this context. Early view here.

How Cutbacks and Job Satisfaction Are Related

Many studies on cutback management have suggested that cutbacks may have negative consequences for employee well-being in the public sector. However, the relationship between cutbacks and the work-related attitudes of top-level managers has received little attention. In this study, Joris van der Voet and assess the relationships between five commonly used cutback measures and the job satisfaction of top-level public managers in 12 European countries, using data from the COCOPS Top Public Executive Survey. We propose and test a model in which autonomy serves as an explanatory variable for the relationship between cutbacks and job satisfaction. The results indicate that cutback measures have little direct effect on the job satisfaction of managers. However, as cutback measures are related negatively to the perceived managerial autonomy of public managers and positively to the degree in which politicians interfere in the affairs of managers, autonomy may function as a mechanism to explain decreased job satisfaction as a result of cutback implementation. Full article here.