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date: 17 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article aims to relate some of the core ideas of NPM (new public management) directly to their economic foundations by reviewing relevant theory and empirical evidence. This overview is limited in two ways. First, it focuses on the more strategic end of the NPM agenda and says little about important tactical issues, such as improving accounting procedures within agencies, more visionary leadership, or the potential of performance auditing. As far as present knowledge encompasses, economics offers little specific advice to public managers about these issues. The article focuses, therefore, on issues such as contracting-out and privatization that are believed to be informed by economics. Second, the focus is primarily normative, though managers' motivations cannot, and should not, be completely ignored. Some positive theory proponents believe that a primarily normative focus is largely a waste of time—that contracting-out decisions, for example, will be driven by bureaucratic self-interest, however complex that self-interest is to model.

Keywords: new public management, public organizations, public managers, contracting-out, privatization, bureaucratic self-interest

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