Write a short note on New Managerialism?

Managerialism is an ideology or set of beliefs and practices, at the core of which burns the seldom tested assumption that the application of more and superior management will prove an effective solution for a wide range of social and economic ills (Managerialism and the Public Services, Chris Pollitt 1990).

This approach was seen by many observers as a way forward to reverse economic decline and stagnation in the face of global change and competition. Governments of the day had started to consider and implement deregulation and decentralization throughout their spheres of control. During this time, there emerged many new groups of ideas including the schools of excellence, total quality management and business process engineering.

There have been many attempts to control public spending on numerous occasions by a succession of civil service reforms, in fact there appeared to be almost a permanent revolution with frequent White Papers. At different times, the UK Government administration was described as the contract state, the surveillance state, the minimal state and the strong state.

The White Paper entitled Modernizing Government 1999 expressed three aims that were to:

  1. Ensure that policy making is more joined up and strategic.
  2. Recognize the importance of public services users and
  3. Highlight the demand that public services must be high quality and efficient.

Governments of the day have indicated that managerialism should ensure the best use of existing resources. There was criticism of previous approaches because of excessive focus on narrow efficiency indicators, it was claimed that there should be more attention given to quality.

Decentralized management, pay related performance, team working and the promotion of a customer culture were seen to reflect a move away from a traditional civil service bureaucratic form of organization to flexible entities driven by values, missions, visions and charismatic government officials. It was considered that customer driven empowered staff, when accompanied by the removal of wasteful bureaucracy, could deliver quality services.

Within local government, managerialism and modernization had been following the same paths for some time both are driven by the conviction in the value of technical expertise and that larger organizations are more efficient and effective.

The White Paper entitled Modern Local Government,  In Touch with the People 1999, stressed that the old culture of paternalism and in wardness must be swept away. Ideas were raised of appointing directly elected mayors and cabinet government with a leader elected by the council.

The policy of  best value was accepted which involves setting objectives, programme of performance review, publicizing a performance plan, undergoing independent inspection/audit and being subject to intervention by the secretary of state if services fail.

All comparisons are made on the basis of outcomes. Best value praises the managerialism views of quality management, bench marking and corporate strategy. It also encompasses a commitment on consultation and partnership, managers do not have the right to manage with unbridled executive power since they are accountable for their performance in an increasing number of ways.

New managerialism within local government is seen to be one of the key drivers for political change at that level, those who opposed the changes were seen to be defending outdated institutions which were in need of reform.

With the acceptance of the concept of the global economy where any product is capable of being made anywhere and sold at any location, national economies were seen to fade away.

There was a downgrading of traditional democratic structures in favor of technocratic managerial and economic efficiency, clients became customers, unemployed people became job seekers, and so on. These approaches were associated with the pursuit of frugality such as cutting costs and doing more for less as a result of dynamic management.

New managerialism was highly critical of the ways in which human resources in organizations are wasted by the inflexible boundaries of professional controls and practice. A multi-tiered level of administration encourages buck passing, discourages individual responsibility and personal involvement. There has been a change in management structures towards decreased command orientation and increased results orientation.

During the late 20th century, managerialism made a challenge to the existing pay systems such as national pay bargaining, comparability, rate for the job, automatic annual increments. The preferred systems include the decentralization of pay bargaining, pay related to market forces and also linked to results.

The performance related pay (PRP) became a managerial tool to ensure the goals of an organization are achieved. A key problem for any scheme of PRP lies in the selection of appropriate measures that should focus on the key dimensions of what constitutes success or failure for the organization. These schemes must be designed to motivate individual staff to greater efforts and also be seen as ‘fair’.

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