Neoliberalism and the origins of public management

Knafo, Samuel (2020) Neoliberalism and the origins of public management. Review of International Political Economy, 27 (4). pp. 780-801. ISSN 0969-2290

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There is a rich literature on the emergence of new public management in the 1980s yet surprisingly little about the historical and social lineages of this movement. The scholarship on public management generally suggests that it was born out of the neoliberal critique of the state. The public sector would have thus borrowed corporate practices concerned with performance in order to instil market-like competition and make efficiency gains. This article challenges this reading by showing that concerns with performance management emerged instead from new planning technologies developed in the US military sector. I argue that these planning practices, initially developed at the RAND corporation, would radically transform governance by changing the way in which decision makers consider data about performance and use it to develop strategies or policies. I then explore the impact of this new approach on both corporate and public governance. I show how these ideas were translated for business studies and public administration in order to radically transform both fields and ‘make them more scientific’. As I show, this process contributed directly to the rise of what became called public management and provided new planning tools that radically transformed how we think about governance.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for Global Political Economy
Depositing User: Samuel Knafo
Date Deposited: 17 May 2019 11:53
Last Modified: 27 Dec 2020 02:00

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