The paradox of managerialism

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This article faddresses the implications of political executives losing control over the implementation of their policy following managerial reforms put in place under the auspices of the new public management. Such loss, in turn, makes them hunger for more control over the bureaucracy. The striking outcome of this process is that the senior servants who are removed from policy making and thus supposed to be less political (i.e., less in the line of fire and more secure as a result) find their positions becoming more insecure due to the political executives' desire for more control. This outcome is best formulated as a paradox: Investing in the public administration's managerial capital (i.e., giving public managers more authority to manage programs) is most likely to result in political executives' disinvesting in the public administration's political capital (i.e., giving ministers greater capacity for setting central directions and priorities and intervention in personnel matters) so as to resolve the problems of loss of control over policy implementation raised by the managerial reforms put in place under the new public management. This hypothesis is strongly supported by a comparative analysis of changes in senior officials' tenure security and protection from external competition in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, Austria, and Malta between 1980 and 1996.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5-18
Number of pages14
JournalPublic Administration Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999


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