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date: 08 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores the key question: What accounts for the growing importance of management consultants in the public policy process? To do so, the article relies on historical-institutionalist theories emphasizing the interactions between processes of state formation (and transformation) and social knowledge. The approach used is both historical and comparative, looking at the role of consultants in public service reforms in various European and North American countries, and at how governments have used consultants since at least the 1960s with the Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System (PPBS) movement, whereas in the 1980s it was more linked to the “audit explosion” and more recently, to e-government. Whether the growing presence of consultants in government is the result of politicians who want to broaden their sources of policy advice, or of the lobbying efforts of consulting firms seeking to expand their activities in the public sector, is an open question.

Keywords: management consultants, historical-institutionalist theories, state formation, transformation, social knowledge

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