Jumat, 29 April 2011


The new public service: serving, not steering by Janet V. Denhardt and
Robert B. Denhardt.—Expanded ed.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-7656-1998-3 (cloth : alk. paper)
1. Public administration. 2. Public administration—United States. I. Denhardt,
Robert B. II. Title.
JF1351.D4495 2007
351—dc22 2006038943
Printed in the United States of America
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of
American National Standard for Information Sciences
Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials,
ANSI Z 39.48-1984.
BM (c) 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
To the women and men of the public service

Preface xi
Acknowledgments xv
Chapter 1. Public Administration and the New Public Management 3
The Old Public Administration 5
The New Public Management 12
Engaging the Debate 22
Chapter 2. The Roots of the New Public Service 25
Democratic Citizenship 27
Models of Community and Civil Society 32
Organizational Humanism and the New Public Administration 35
Postmodern Public Administration 39
The New Public Service 42
Chapter 3. Serve Citizens, Not Customers 45
Civic Virtue and Democratic Citizenship 46
Public Service as an Extension of Citizenship 53
The Old Public Administration and Client Service 57
The New Public Management and Customer Satisfaction 57
The New Public Service and Quality Service for Citizens 60
Conclusion 63
Chapter 4. Seek the Public Interest 65
What Is the Public Interest? 67
The Old Public Administration and the Public Interest 74
The New Public Management and the Public Interest 76
The New Public Service and the Public Interest 77
Conclusion 81
Chapter 5. Value Citizenship over Entrepreneurship 83
A Governance Perspective 84
The Old Public Administration and the Administrator’s Role 88
The New Public Management and the Administrator’s Role 90
The New Public Service and the Administrator’s Role 93
Conclusion 100
Chapter 6. Think Strategically, Act Democratically 103
Implementation in Historical Perspective 104
The Old Public Administration and Implementation 111
The New Public Management and Implementation 112
The New Public Service and Implementation 114
Conclusion 116
Chapter 7. Recognize that Accountability Isn’t Simple 119
The Classic Debate 120
Administrative Responsibility: To Whom for What? 124
The Old Public Administration and Accountability 129
The New Public Management and Accountability 130
The New Public Service and Accountability 131
Conclusion 137
Chapter 8. Serve Rather than Steer 139
Changing Perspectives on Leadership 139
The Old Public Administration and Executive Management 141
The New Public Management and Entrepreneurship 143
The New Public Service and Leadership 145
Conclusion 153
Chapter 9. Value People, Not Just Productivity 155
Human Behavior in Organizations: Key Concepts 156
Groups, Culture, and Democratic Administration 159
The Old Public Administration: Using Control to
Achieve Efficiency 162
The New Public Management: Using Incentives to
Achieve Productivity 163
The New Public Service: Respecting Public Service Ideals 163
Conclusion 167
Chapter 10. The New Public Service in Action 169
Listening to the City—The Rebuilding of New York 170
Iowa’s Citizen-Initiated Performance Assessment 173
National Park Service Civic Engagement Initiative 176
New Public Service in Greenville, Wisconsin 178
Civic Engagement Around the World 181
The Future of the New Public Service 187
Chapter 11. Conclusion 189
References 197
Index 213
About the Authors 223

This book has two primary aims. The first is to synthesize some of the many
ideas and voices calling for the reaffirmation of democratic values, citizenship,
and service in the public interest as the normative foundations for
the field of public administration. The second is to provide a framework to
organize those ideas around principles, giving them a name, a mantle, and a
voice that we believe has been lacking. This book is a call to think about and
act on our values. It is intended as a challenge for us to think carefully and
critically about what public service is, why it is important, and what values
ought to guide what we do and how we do it. We want to celebrate what is
distinctive, important, and meaningful about public service and to consider
how we might better live up to those ideals and values.
Two themes form both the theoretical core and the heart of this book: (1) to
advance the dignity and worth of public service, and (2) to reassert the values
of democracy, citizenship, and the public interest as the preeminent values of
public administration. It is our hope that the ideas presented here may help
us not only to initiate more conversations, but also to look within ourselves
for the soul of what we do. We want words like “democracy” and “citizen”
and “pride” to be more prevalent in both our speech and our behavior than
words like “market” and “competition” and “customers.” Public servants do
not deliver customer service; they deliver democracy.
These themes—the dignity and worth of public service and the values
of democracy, citizenship, and the public interest—were the subject of two
online articles we wrote for the American Society for Public Administration
Web site following the September 11 attacks on the United States. In the
first article, we expressed our grief and disbelief, along with our admiration
for the brave public servants who went to the aid of those in need. The story
of the police and firefighters running up the stairs of the World Trade Center
as others struggled down was particularly compelling to us:
These people showed America, once again, that they stand apart. What
makes them different is their quiet, often anonymous heroism. They are
public servants. They serve their fellow citizens in a way that many people
would find very difficult if not impossible to understand. . . . In a peculiar
way, this ghastly act of terrorism reminds us of why we are in the public
service. We care about our country, our community, and our neighbors.
Each of us, whether we wear a uniform, a suit, a jacket, coveralls, or a
hard hat, plays a role in improving the lives of others. Service to the
public—helping people in trouble, making the world safer and cleaner,
helping children learn and prosper, literally going where others would not
go—is our job and our calling. (Denhardt and Denhardt 2001a)
In the second article, we wrote about our continuing admiration for the
many public servants who work tirelessly on our behalf and also about the
importance of citizenship and our responsibility to promote citizens’ active
involvement in their government:
The spirit of public service extends beyond those formally working for
government, those we think of as public servants. Ordinary citizens have
also wished to contribute. However, the avenues through which they might
bring their many talents to bear have been somewhat limited, in part, we
think, because over the past several decades we have severely constrained
the citizenship role, preferring to think of people as customers or consumers
rather than citizens. (Denhardt and Denhardt 2001b)
We were gratified and a little surprised at the response. Many people wrote
to us and talked with us about what the articles meant to them and, most
importantly, how much they wanted to hear and talk about the values, the
soul, and the nobility of public service. In this book, we are trying to extend
that discussion by grounding it in history and in the development of thought
and practice in public administration. The ideas are not new, but they are
beginning to have a clearer voice and spark a renewed interest. What happened
to the ideals of public service, and when did we stop hearing about
them? How have changes in management philosophy and theories about
the proper role and identity of government altered how public servants act,
think, and behave? What values of public service, especially those that give
the field dignity, courage, and commitment, have been lost in the process?
How can we rediscover and affirm them?
In the time since the first edition of The New Public Service was published,
this discussion has continued. We have been grateful for the opportunity to
visit with and listen to the ideas of those interested in the New Public Service
in communities and organizations across the United States as well as in Brazil,
Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, Korea, and China, where a Chinese translation
of the book was published in 2004. The insights and ideas we gained from
these discussions have reinforced our convictions and deepened our respect
for the very difficult and important work of public servants in democratic
governance. It reminds us of why we wrote this book in the first place—not
to lay claim to a set of novel and original ideas, but rather to give voice to the
democratic ideals and perspectives that are so critical to effective governance
but have too often become overshadowed by other efforts to use business
values and approaches to reinvent and otherwise “fix” government.
One of the most frequent questions we have been asked since The New
Public Service was first published is “How can the principles of the New
Public Service be put into practice?” Our answer has been, and continues to
be, that practicing public administrators in particular jurisdictions and organizations
are in the best position to consider the ways in which the principles
of citizen engagement and democratic values can be instilled and enhanced
in the governance process. With that caveat, we have added a new chapter to
this edition entitled “The New Public Service in Action” to describe a few
of the broad array of activities at the local, state, and federal levels in the
United States, as well as in countries around the world, that are consistent
with the values of the New Public Service.
We do not pretend to provide all the answers or to stake a claim to articulating
the “correct” values of the field; rather, we want people to start talking
about them again, a little louder and a little more forcefully. We want to initiate
conversations about the nobility and calling of public service and to help public
servants rediscover the soul and meaning of what they do and why they do it.
Janet and Robert Denhardt

We are indebted to many people for their guidance and help during our work
on this project. We especially want to acknowledge the important models
of public service and civic engagement provided by forward-looking public
servants and active and engaged citizens across the country and around the
world. These are the people who have already established the “New Public
Service.” We have simply given their work a name. We also want to thank
friends and colleagues in the academic community for their assistance and
support during our work on this project. Among the many practitioners and
academics we might mention, we especially want to recall the intellectual
contributions, support, and friendship of such people as Marvin Andrews,
Maria Aristigueta, Lynn Bailey, Joel Benton, Eric Bergrud, Dick Bowers,
Harry Briggs, Patra Carroll, Joe Cayer, Linda Chapin, Jeff Chapman, Tom
Eichler, Eileen Eisen, Frank Fairbanks, Mark Glaser, Joe Gray, Joe Grubbs,
Jay Hakes, John Hall, Mary Hamilton, Mark Holzer, Ed Jennings, Cheryl
King, Christiaan Lako, Roz Lasker, Brian Marson, Barbara McCabe, Cynthia
McSwain, John Nalbandian, Nico Nelissen, Robert O’Neill, Phil Penland,
Jan Perkins, Mark Platts, Jeff Raffel, Dan Rich, Faye Schmidt, Camilla
Stivers, Larry Terry, John Thomas, and Orion White. We also owe a very
special thanks to Kelly Campbell and Qian Hu, our wonderful research assistants,
whom we know will make great contributions to the field of public
administration. A sincere thanks to all! And as always, we want to express
our love and admiration for our children: Michael, Ben, Cari, and Mary.


Chapter 1
Public Administration and the
New Public Management
Government shouldn’t be run like a business; it should be run like a democracy.
Across this country and around the world, both elected and appointed
public servants are acting on this principle and expressing renewed commitment
to such ideals as the public interest, the governance process, and
expanding democratic citizenship. As a result, they are learning new skills
in policy development and implementation, recognizing and accepting the
complexity of the challenges they face, and treating their fellow public servants
and citizens with renewed dignity and respect. Public employees are
feeling more valued and energized as this sense of service and community
expands. In the process, public servants are also reconnecting with citizens.
Administrators are realizing that they have much to gain by “listening” to
the public rather than “telling,” and by “serving” rather than “steering.” At
the invitation of public servants, even their urging, ordinary citizens are once
again becoming engaged in the governance process. Citizens and public officials
are working together to define and to address common problems in a
cooperative and mutually beneficial way.
We suggest that this new attitude and new involvement are evidence of an
emerging movement in public administration, which we will call the “New
Public Service.” The New Public Service seeks to pose and inform a number
of central normative questions about the field. How can we define the essential
character of what we do in the public service? What is the motivating
force that propels our actions? What gives us strength and capacity when the
trials and turmoil of our work get us down? How can we keep going even as
we face problems that are complex and intractable with extremely limited
resources and a public that often resents and criticizes what we do? We think
the answer lies in our commitment to public service.
We find no other reasonable explanation for the extraordinary dedication
and commitment of the people who work to make the world safer and
cleaner, to improve our health, to teach our children, and to unravel the host
of societal maladies that confront us. Where else can we find the foundations
for our efforts to facilitate citizenship and public engagement as a central
part of our work? What else can keep the firefighters, the police officers,
the social workers, the planners and the inspectors, the receptionists and the
clerks, the managers and the analysts serving their communities and their
country with energy, resolve, and determination?
Research tells us that the ideals of public service are critically important in
understanding how public servants can be successful in the work they do. But
what seems missing today is a unifying set of themes and principles that both
express and reaffirm the importance of these public service values. Questions
about these values have, of course, been debated throughout the history of
public administration in this country and elsewhere, but there seems to be
more concern for these issues today than before. Certainly there are some
important “driving forces” that have been widely discussed in the field of
public administration: the New Public Management, the National Performance
Review, the Managing for Results movement, and total quality management
(TQM)—to name just a few. While all these influences have been important,
none has satisfied our more basic yearning to answer some core questions:
Who are we? Why are we here? What does all this mean? People in public
administration throughout the history of our field have been encouraged to
make things work, but that’s only a partial answer. We also want to do something
of societal value.
Therein lies the soul of public administration. What is most significant,
and most valuable, about public administration is that we serve citizens to
advance the common good. Public administrators are responsible for improving
the public health, for maintaining public safety, for enhancing the
quality of our environment, and myriad other tasks. Ultimately, for them,
for us, what really matters is not how efficiently we have done our jobs, but
how we have contributed to a better life for all. In this book, we call for an
affirmation of the soul of the profession through the New Public Service,
a movement grounded in the public interest, in the ideals of democratic
governance, and in a renewed civic engagement. This movement, we will
argue, is now being manifest in the way we interact with political leaders,
in the way we engage with citizens, and in the way we bring about positive
changes in our organizations and our communities.
We will approach the task of describing the various elements of the
New Public Service by contrasting it with both traditional and more
contemporary approaches to public policy and public administration. In
this chapter, we will very briefly review the history and development of
traditional public administration, what we must now call the Old Public
Administration. Then we will outline what we see as the dominant or
mainstream approach to contemporary public administration today, the
New Public Management. In Chapter 2, we will note some of the most
important alternative views of public administration, views that have been
less than “mainstream” throughout the history of the field, but are now
being voiced with increasing urgency. Having examined the context and
historical grounding for understanding the New Public Service, in Chapters
3 through 9, we will explore seven aspects of the New Public Service
that we find most compelling. In Chapter 10 we provide some examples
of how New Public Service values are being implemented in the United
States and around the world. At the outset, we should note that we have not
attempted to develop a complete theoretical argument for the New Public
Service nor catalog all of the many examples of its practice. Rather our
purpose is to simply lay out, in a very basic way, the normative issues and
the alternative ways of thinking about public administration that may be
helpful to those working to build the New Public Service.
The Old Public Administration
While governments have used complex structures of management and organization
throughout human history, public administration as a self-conscious
field of study and practice is generally thought to have begun around the
turn of the century. Its American version, for example, is typically dated to a
well-known essay by Woodrow Wilson, then college professor, later president
of the United States. Wilson acknowledged the growing and increasingly
complex administrative tasks of government by commenting that “it is
getting harder to run a constitution than to frame one” (Wilson 1987/1887,
200). In order to more effectively run government, Wilson advised that we
look to the field of business, since “the field of administration is a field of
business” (209). In order to follow the model of business, Wilson advised,
government should establish executive authorities, controlling essentially
hierarchical organizations and having as their goal achieving the most reliable
and efficient operations possible.
Those residing at these centers of power, however, were not to be actively
or extensively involved in the development of policy. Their tasks
were instead the implementation of policy and the provision of services,
and in those tasks they were expected to act with neutrality and professionalism
to execute faithfully the directives that came their way. They
were to be watched carefully and held accountable to elected political
leaders, so as not to deviate from established policy. Wilson recognized
a potential danger in the other direction as well, the possibility that politics,
or more specifically, corrupt politicians might negatively influence
administrators in their pursuit of organizational efficiency. This concern
led to Wilson’s well-known dictum, “Administration lies outside the proper
sphere of politics. Administrative questions are not political questions.
Although politics sets the tasks for administration, it should not be suffered
to manipulate its offices” (Wilson 1987/1887, 210). Thus, Wilson
established what was known for many years as the politics-administration
(or policy-administration) dichotomy.
Two Key Themes
In Wilson’s essay, we find two key themes that served as a focus for the
study of public administration for the next half century or more. First, there
was the distinction between politics (or policy) and administration, with its
associated ideas of accountability to elected leaders and neutral competence
on the part of administrators. Second, there was concern for creating structures
and strategies of administrative management that would permit public
organizations and their managers to act in the most efficient way possible.
Each of these ideas deserves further comment.
First, the idea of separating politics and administration received much
early commentary and came to guide practice in a number of important
ways. For example, the dichotomy is clearly the basis for the council-manager
form of local government, which involves the council being given the
responsibility of establishing policy and the city manager being charged
with implementing it. Of course, in the council-manager example, as in
other areas, a strict separation of politics and administration proved difficult.
Members of governing bodies, whether members of city councils or state
or federal legislators, always maintained an active interest in the operations
of administrative agencies. Especially through the oversight function, they
exercised considerable influence in the operations of agencies. Conversely,
administrators came to play a more active role in the policy process, especially
as they brought expert advice to bear on the legislative process. Over
time, many commentators such as Luther Gulick, first city administrator of
New York and a founder of the American Society for Public Administration,
argued that policy and administration could not be separated, that every act
of a public manager involves a “seamless web of discretion and action”
(1933, 561). Others, such as Paul Appleby, dean of the Maxwell School at
Syracuse University, were even more to the point, “public administration is
policymaking” (Appleby 1949, 170).
The distinction Wilson drew between politics and administration has certainly
blurred over time. Yet, in many ways, the relationship between politics
and administration remains important to the field of public administration.
While a “dichotomy” between politics and administration is overdrawn,
the interaction of political and administrative concerns is certainly key to
understanding how government operates even today. Perhaps more important,
however, the separation of politics and administration lies at the heart
of the Old Public Administration’s version of accountability, one in which
appointed administrators were held to be accountable to their political “masters”—
and only through them to the citizenry. In this view, the requirements
of democratic governance are satisfied where a neutral and competent civil
service is controlled by and accountable to elected political leaders. Frederick
Cleveland, an early writer, commented that democratic accountability is maintained
where there is a “representative body (such as a legislature) outside of
the administration with power to determine the will of the membership (the
citizens) and to enforce (that) will on the administration” (Cleveland 1920,
15, parentheses added). In this view, the legislature operates somewhat like
a board of directors overseeing a business operation.
Second, Wilson held, and others agreed, that public organizations should
seek the greatest possible efficiency in their operations and that such efficiency
was best achieved through unified and largely hierarchical structures
of administrative management. Certainly that view was consistent with thinking
among business managers of the period. Many, such as the efficiency
expert Frederick W. Taylor (1923), employed a “scientific management”
approach to try to learn, through detailed “time and motion” studies, exactly
how the productive process could be improved. Taylor, for example, sought
to determine the “one best way” to shovel dirt by designing an experiment
that would calculate the ideal weight of a single shovelful of dirt, ideal in
the sense of producing the most shoveled dirt per day!
Other early theorists, such as Leonard White (1926) and W.F. Willoughby
(1927), focused on building organizational structures that would operate
with high efficiency. Again, most found attractive the idea of a strong chief
executive vested with the power and authority to carry out the work assigned
to the agency. Moreover, that chief executive would be most successful if he
or she operated through an organizational structure characterized by unity
of command, hierarchical authority, and a strict division of labor. The job
of the executive, therefore, was to determine the best division of labor, then
to develop the appropriate means of coordination and control. Or, following
Gulick’s classic acronym POSDCORB, the work of the executive was planning,
organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, reporting, and budgeting
(1937, 13). But again, efficiency was the key value accepted by most early
writers and practitioners.
Dissenting Views
That is not to say, however, that all accepted efficiency as the ultimate
criterion by which to judge administrators. Marshall Dimock, an academic
and practitioner, challenged that idea, writing that mechanical efficiency is
“Coldly calculating and inhuman,” whereas, “successful administration is
warm and vibrant. It is human” (Dimock 1936, 120). Successful administration,
he continued, “is more than a lifeless pawn. It plans, it contrives, it
philosophizes, it educates, it builds for the community as a whole” (133). Others
suggested that administrators as well as political leaders were ultimately
concerned with issues such as justice, liberty, freedom, and equality—issues
far more formidable and difficult than efficiency alone.
Finally, many writers noted that the search for organizational efficiency
might easily occur at the expense of involving citizens in the work of government.
Writing somewhat later, Dwight Waldo, perhaps the best known
public administration theorist of his generation, summarized the emerging
orthodoxy in the field of public administration by writing that “The means
and measurements of efficiency, it was felt and strongly stated, were the same
for all administration. Democracy, if it were to survive, could not afford to
ignore the lessons of centralization, hierarchy, and discipline” (Waldo 1948,
200). Moreover, he commented, “Both private and public administration were
in an important . . . sense false to the ideal of democracy . . . by reason of
their insistence that democracy, however good and desirable, is nevertheless
something peripheral to administration” (Waldo 1952, 7).
So, in contrast to using efficiency as the sole criterion for assessing
administrative performance, one might employ other criteria, such as
responsiveness to the concerns of citizens. An appealing view, one might
say. Yet these alternative voices were counterpoint at best, as the emerging
field of public administration moved firmly through the ideas of “politics and
administration,” “scientific management,” “administrative management,”
and “bureaucratic management.” In each case, theory and practice confirmed
the importance of tightly integrated hierarchical structures controlled from
the top by managers interested in achieving the organization’s goals and
objectives in the most efficient manner possible. Interestingly, even as the
field moved through the next several decades and into its behavioral or
“scientific” phase, these same issues continued to be highlighted. Though
the justification was somewhat different, the resulting recommendations
were much the same.
The Rational Model
The classic Administrative Behavior (1957), written by Herbert Simon, a
political scientist who later won a Nobel Prize in economics, laid out the
argument best. According to the positive science viewpoint Simon represented,
statements may be classified according to whether they are true
or false. Scientists, of course, are concerned with establishing the truth of
certain propositions. In order to do so they must strip away those pesky
“values” that tend to interfere in human affairs. So those terms that speak to
individual or group preferences are not to be admitted into scientific study,
in this case the study of administrative behavior. Rather Simon argued that
a single standard, the standard of efficiency, may be used to help remove
values from the discussion of organized action.
The key to this argument is the concept of rationality. According to Simon,
human beings are limited in the degree of rationality they can obtain
in reference to the problems they face; but they can join together in groups
and organizations to deal effectively with the world around them, and they
can do so in a rational manner. After all, in the abstract, it’s not hard to develop
a rational course of action to achieve most objectives. The problem
comes when we insert real live people, with all their human concerns and
idiosyncrasies, into the picture. The issue then becomes one of how to match
these people with the rational plan and how to assure that human behavior
follows the most efficient path possible.
In contrast to a long philosophical tradition that holds human reason to be
concerned with such issues as justice, equality, and freedom, Simon’s more
restricted view is that rationality is concerned with coordinating the proper
means to accomplish the desired ends. In this view, rationality is equated with
efficiency. For what Simon called “administrative man,” the most rational
behavior is that which moves an organization efficiently toward its objectives.
“Administrative man accepts the organizational goals as the value premises of
his decisions, is particularly sensitive and reactive to the influence upon him
on the other members of the organization, forms stable expectations regarding
his own role . . . and has high morale in regard to the organization’s goals”
(Simon, Smithburg, and Thompson 1950, 82). Then, through what is called
the inducements-contributions model, by controlling the inducements offered
to members of the organization, its leaders could secure their contribution
and compliance with the rational design of the organization, the result being
a far more efficient and productive organization.
Public Choice
Some years after Simon’s work an interesting interpretation of administrative
behavior, and one more closely allied with the classic “economic man”
position, emerged. This new approach, called “public choice theory,” actually
provides an interesting bridge between the Old Public Administration and
the New Public Management, for while public choice theory was developed
during the time period we generally associate with the Old Public Administration,
as we will see later, public choice became much more significant
later as the key theoretical basis for the New Public Management. For this
reason, we will only briefly outline public choice theory here, but return to
it frequently throughout the material that follows.
Public choice theory is based on several key assumptions. First, and most
important, public choice theory focuses on the individual, assuming that the
individual decision maker, like the traditional “economic man,” is rational,
self-interested, and seeks to maximize his or her own “utilities.” According
to this view, individuals seek the greatest benefit (at the least cost) in any
decision situation, acting to “always seek the biggest possible benefits and
the least costs in the decisions. People are basically egoistic, self-regarding
and instrumental in their behavior” (Dunleavy 1991, 3). Even if people are
not that way, economists and public choice theorists argue that it enables us
to better explain human behavior if we assume that they are. Second, public
choice theory focuses on the idea of “public goods” as the output of public
agencies. These can be distinguished from private goods in that a public good,
like national defense, when provided to one person will be provided to all.
A third idea associated with public choice is that different kinds of
decision rules or decision situations will result in different approaches to
choice making. For this reason, structuring decision rules to influence human
choice, and in turn human behavior, is a key to the operations of public
agencies and the governance system more generally. In this view, “public
agencies are viewed as a means for allocating decision-making capabilities
in order to provide public goods and services responsive to the preferences
of individuals in different social contexts” (Ostrom and Ostrom 1971, 207).
In other words, the public choice approach involves the application of
economic models and approaches to nonmarket circumstances, especially
government and political science, so as to provide structures and incentives
to guide human behavior.
There are a number of questions that have been raised about public choice
theory. The first and most obvious is the empirical one. Do individuals really
consistently act in a self-interested way so as to maximize their utilities?
Obviously, there are many situations in which they do, but also many in
which they do not. This means that the public choice model must sacrifice
behavioral accuracy in order to put forward a key construct upon which
the rest of its theorizing is based. The result is a set of logical propositions
based on assumptions that may only remotely correspond to actual human
behavior. To an even greater extent than Simon’s model of “administrative
man,” the more purely “economic man” of the public choice model is based
on an assumption of complete rationality. One might ask, “Why not focus on
other aspects of the human experience, such as feelings or intuition?” For the
public choice theorist, the answer is that, in order to provide better explanations
for human behavior, we should concentrate on the way individuals and
groups attempt to maximize their own interests and on the way that market
mechanisms both influence and respond to individual choices.
As Yale political scientist Robert Dahl (1947) pointed out in a critique
of Simon’s view, a critique also applicable to the more recent public choice
model, to say that an action is rational is not to say that it serves moral or
politically responsible purposes, but merely to say that it moves the organization
forward more efficiently. Dahl suggested that, in contrast, efficiency
is itself a value and should compete with other values, such as individual
responsibility or democratic morality. In many cases, argued Dahl, efficiency
would not be the primary value chosen. For example, how would we evaluate
the operation of the German prison camps in World War II, camps that by
all accounts were run quite efficiently? Or, more to the current point, how
would we balance a concern for administrative efficiency in a public agency
with the need for that agency to involve citizens in its decision processes? We
think that is a important question. But Dahl’s point, like similar arguments
made by Waldo and others, was relegated to a position somewhat outside
the mainstream in the emerging dialogue about the structure and conduct of
public organizations.
Core Ideas
Obviously many other scholars and practitioners contributed to the early
development of the field of public administration. And, as we have seen,
there is not a single set of ideas agreed to by all those who contributed over
the decades to the Old Public Administration. However, we think that it is
fair to say that the following elements generally represent the mainstream
view of the Old Public Administration:
• The focus of government is on the direct delivery of services through
existing or through newly authorized agencies of government.
• Public policy and administration are concerned with designing
and implementing policies focused on a single, politically defined
• Public administrators play a limited role in policymaking and governance;
rather they are charged with the implementation of public
• The delivery of services should be carried out by administrators
accountable to elected officials and given limited discretion in
their work.
• Administrators are responsible to democratically elected political
• Public programs are best administered through hierarchical organizations,
with managers largely exercising control from the top
of the organization.
• The primary values of public organizations are efficiency and
• Public organizations operate most efficiently as closed systems;
thus citizen involvement is limited.
• The role of the public administrator is largely defined as planning,
organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, reporting, and
There’s no question that the Old Public Administration should be given a
considerable amount of credit. Administrators operating largely within the
confines of this view made (and continue to make) dramatic and important contributions
to society, in areas ranging from national defense, to social security,
to transportation, to public health, and to the protection of the environment.
The Old Public Administration has allowed us to deal effectively with extremely
complex and difficult problems and to maintain a balance between
political and administrative concerns. Given the circumstances of its time, the
Old Public Administration served well, even if imperfectly. It continues to do
so. Most government agencies still follow this basic model of organization
and management—or at least this model seems to be the “default” position
for agencies at all levels of government. But the old model has come under
increasing attack, especially by proponents of what we will call the New
Public Management.
The New Public Management
As it is used here, the New Public Management refers to a cluster of contemporary
ideas and practices that seek, at their core, to use private sector
and business approaches in the public sector. While, as we have seen, there
have long been calls to “run government like a business,” the current version
of this debate involves more than just the use of business techniques. Rather,
the New Public Management has become a normative model, one signaling
a profound shift in how we think about the role of public administrators, the
nature of the profession, and how and why we do what we do.
Over the past couple of decades, the New Public Management has literally
swept the nation and the world. As a result, a number of highly positive
changes have been implemented in the public sector (Osborne and Gaebler
1992; Osborne and Plastrik 1997; Kettl 2000a; Kettl and Milward 1996;
Lynn 1996; Pollitt and Bouckaert 2000). The common theme in the myriad
of applications of these ideas has been the use of market mechanisms and
terminology, in which the relationships between public agencies and their
customers is understood as involving transactions similar to those that occur
in the marketplace. “Painted with the broadest brush, these reforms sought
to replace the traditional rule-based, authority-driven processes with marketbased,
competition-driven tactics” (Kettl 2000a, 3).
In the New Public Management, public managers are challenged either
to find new and innovative ways to achieve results or to privatize functions
previously provided by government. They are urged to “steer, not row,”
meaning they should not assume the burden of service delivery themselves,
but, wherever possible, should define programs that others would then carry
out, through contracting or other such arrangements. The key is that the New
Public Management relies heavily on market mechanisms to guide public
programs. Harvard’s Linda Kaboolian explains that these arrangements might
include “competition within units of government and across government
boundaries to the non-profit and for profit sectors, performance bonuses,
and penalties” (Kaboolian 1998, 190). The aim is to loosen what advocates
of the New Public Management see as an inefficient monopoly franchise of
public agencies and public employees. Elaborating on this point, Christopher
Hood of the London School of Economics writes that the New Public
Management moves away from traditional modes of legitimizing the public
bureaucracy, such as procedural safeguards on administrative discretion,
in favor of “trust in the market and private business methods . . . ideas . . .
couched in the language of economic rationalism” (1995, 94).
Following these ideas, many public managers have initiated efforts to
increase productivity and to find alternative service-delivery mechanisms
based on economic assumptions and perspectives. They have concentrated on
accountability to customers and high performance, restructuring bureaucratic
agencies, redefining organizational missions, streamlining agency processes,
and decentralizing decision making. In many cases, governments and government
agencies have succeeded in privatizing previously public functions, hold14
ing top executives accountable for measurable performance goals, establishing
new processes for measuring productivity and effectiveness, and reengineering
departmental systems to reflect a strengthened commitment to accountability
(Barzelay 2001; Boston et al. 1996; Pollitt and Bouckaert 2000).
Donald Kettl of the Brookings Institution sees what he calls the “global
public management reform” focusing on six core issues:
1. How can governments find ways to squeeze more services from the
same or a smaller revenue base?
2. How can government use market-style incentives to root out the pathologies
of bureaucracy; how can traditional bureaucratic commandand-
control mechanisms be replaced with market strategies that will
change the behavior of program managers?
3. How can government use market mechanisms to give citizens (now
often called “customers”) greater choices among services—or at least
encourage greater attention to serving customers better?
4. How can government make programs more responsive? How can government
decentralize responsibility to give front-line managers greater
incentives to serve?
5. How can government improve its capacity to devise and track policy?
How can government separate its role as a purchaser of services (a
contractor) from its role in actually delivering services?
6. How can governments focus on outputs and outcomes instead of
processes or structures? How can they replace top-down, rule-driven
systems with bottom-up, results-driven systems? (Adapted from Kettl
2000a, 1–2)
Similarly, New Zealand’s Jonathon Boston had earlier characterized the
central features or doctrines of the New Public Management, as follows:
[An] emphasis on management rather than policy; a shift from the use
of input controls . . . to a reliance on quantifiable output measures and
performance targets; the devolution of management control coupled
with the development of new reporting, monitoring, and accountability
mechanisms; the disaggregation of large bureaucratic structures into
quasi-autonomous agencies, in particular the separation of commercial
from non-commercial functions . . . ; a preference for private ownership,
contracting out, and contestability in public service provision; the imitation
of certain private sector management practices, such as . . . the development
of corporate plans (and) performance agreements, the introduction of
performance-linked remuneration systems, . . . and a greater concern for
corporate image; a general preference for monetary incentives rather than
non-monetary incentives, such as ethics, ethos, and status; and a stress on
cost-cutting, efficiency, and cutback management. (Boston 1991, 9–10)
Around the World
The effectiveness of this practical reform agenda in such countries as New
Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, and later the United States put governments
around the world on notice that new standards were being sought and new
roles established. That is not to say that each of these countries followed
exactly the same pattern in seeking management reform in the public sector.
As leading European scholars Christopher Pollitt and Geert Bouckaert are
careful to point out, efforts to reform are constrained by the philosophy and
culture of governance within a particular country, by the nature and structure
of that country’s government, and by luck and coincidence. However,
“Certain regimes look as though they are much more open to the ‘performance-
driven,’ market-favouring ideas of the New Public Management than
others, particularly the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ countries, Australia, Canada, New
Zealand, the UK, and the USA” (2000, 60–61).
New Zealand’s reform efforts were noteworthy, beginning in the mid-
1980s as the Labor Party came to power after nine years out of office. At the
time, New Zealand’s economy had stagnated and the country found it hard
to sustain its traditionally generous social programs and economic support.
“The New Zealand reforms began with a top down approach that sought to
privatize programs wherever possible, to substitute market incentives for command-
and-control bureaucracies; and to focus single-mindedly on outputs and
results instead of inputs.” (Kettl 2000a, 8). The key principles underlying the
model seemed to be that the government should only be involved in activities
that could not be more efficiently and effectively handled elsewhere and
that government should, wherever possible, be organized along the lines of
private enterprise. Additionally, there was a strong dependence on incentive
systems and the use of explicit contracts between ministers and managers
or between purchasers (agencies) and providers (contractors) (Boston et al.
1996, 4–6). In terms of management systems, New Zealand essentially did
away with its civil service system, allowing managers to negotiate their own
contracts with employees and to introduce budget systems more focused on
performance and results. The result was a massive transformation of public
management in New Zealand.
Similar changes in the Australian approach to public administration and
management in the 1980s and beyond were also triggered by difficult economic
times but went far beyond simply enabling the government to make
deep cuts in public programs. As early as 1983, the government under Prime
Minister Robert Hawke had endorsed the notion of “managing for results” and
had initiated a series of financial management and other reforms to achieve
this objective. Again, a variety of efforts at privatization, governmental
restructuring, and efforts to evaluate programs in terms of specific desired
results were implemented. Managers were encouraged to use corporate-style
planning processes to identify priorities, goals, and objectives, to reconstitute
financial management processes so as to better track expenditures in light
of desired results, and to emphasize efficiency, productivity, and accountability
for results.
The British reforms largely were triggered by Margaret Thatcher’s neoconservative
efforts to reduce the size of the state. A key early effort was to
reduce costs and spin off those activities that might be better accomplished
in the private sector, while subjecting those that remained to market competition
wherever possible. Additionally, the Financial Management Initiative
centered on identifying specific centers of responsibility, associating
costs with outcomes, and holding managers contractually responsible for
achieving those outcomes. A later “citizens charter” exercise sought to hold
agencies responsible for meeting specific service standards. “The (British
version of) the new public management stemmed from the basic economic
argument that government suffered from the defects of monopoly, high
transaction costs, and information problems that bred great inefficiencies. By
substituting market competition—and marketlike incentives—the reformers
believed they could shrink government’s size, reduce its costs, and improve
its performance” (Kettl 2000a, 14).
The American Experience
These ideas were first crystallized and popularized in the United States by
David Osborne and Ted Gaebler’s best-selling book, Reinventing Government
(1992; see also Osborne and Plastrik 1997). Drawing on the experiences of
other countries, especially New Zealand, as well as experiences at the state
and local level in America, Osborne and Gaebler, a journalist and a former
city manager, provided a number of now-familiar “principles” through which
“public entrepreneurs” might bring about massive governmental reform,
ideas that remain at the core of the New Public Management:
1. Catalytic Government, Steering Rather than Rowing: Public entrepreneurs
move beyond existing policy options, serving instead as catalysts
within their communities to generate alternate courses of action. They
choose to steer, recognizing a wide range of possibilities and striking a
balance between resources and needs, rather than rowing, concentrating
on a single objective. Those who steer define their future, rather
than simply relying on traditional assumptions (Osborne and Gaebler
1992, 35).
2. Community-Owned Government, Empowering Rather than Serving:
Public entrepreneurs have learned that past efforts to serve clients produced
dependence, as opposed to economic and social independence.
Rather than maintain this approach, these entrepreneurs shift ownership
of public initiatives into the community. They empower citizens,
neighborhood groups, and community organizations to be the sources
of their own solutions (Osborne and Gaebler 1992, 52).
3. Competitive Government, Injecting Competition into Service Delivery:
Public entrepreneurs have recognized that attempting to provide every
service not only places a drain on public resources but also causes
public organizations to overextend their capabilities, thus reducing
service quality and effectiveness. These entrepreneurs counter this
trend by fostering competition among public, private, and nongovernmental
service providers. The results are “greater efficiency, enhanced
responsiveness, and an environment that rewards innovation” (Osborne
and Gaebler 1992, 80–83).
4. Mission-Driven Government, Transforming Rule-Driven Organizations:
Public entrepreneurs have seen how excessive rule-making in bureaucratic
organizations stifles innovation and limits government performance.
Such rule-making is further supported by rigid systems of
budgeting and human resources. In contrast, public entrepreneurs focus
first on the mission of the group—what the organization strives for
internally and externally. Then, the budget, human resources, and
other systems are designed to reflect the overall mission (Osborne and
Gaebler 1992, 110).
5. Results-Oriented Government, Funding Outcomes, Not Inputs: Public
entrepreneurs believe that government should be dedicated to achieving
substantive public goals, or outcomes, as opposed to concentrating
strictly on controlling the public resources expended in doing the
job. Current evaluation and reward systems focus mainly on fiscal
efficiency and control, rarely asking what impacts were gained from
each public initiative. Public entrepreneurs transform these systems to
be more results oriented—that is, accountability based on government
performance (Osborne and Gaebler 1992, 140–141).
6. Customer-Driven Government, Meeting the Needs of the Customer,
Not the Bureaucracy: Public entrepreneurs have learned from their
private-sector counterparts that unless one focuses on the customer, the
citizen will never be happy. Since legislative bodies provide most public
resources to government agencies, these agencies operate completely
blind of their customer base. They function according to their own
priorities, and those demanded of them by the funding source, instead
of what they customers actually need. Public entrepreneurs stand this
system on its head, serving the customer first (Osborne and Gaebler
1992, 166–167).
7. Enterprising Government, Earning Rather than Spending: Public entrepreneurs
face the same fiscal constraints as their traditional counterparts,
but the difference is in the way they respond. Rather than raise taxes
or slash public programs, public entrepreneurs find innovative ways
to do more with less. By instituting the concept of profit motive into
the public realm—for example, relying on charges and fees for public
services and investments to fund future initiatives—public entrepreneurs
are able to add value and ensure results, even in tight financial
times (Osborne and Gaebler 1992, 203–206).
8. Anticipatory Government, Prevention Rather than Cure: Public entrepreneurs
have grown tired of funneling resources into programs to
resolve public problems. Instead, they believe the primary concern
should be prevention, stopping the problem before it ever occurs.
Government in the past prided itself on service delivery—on being
able to put forth initiatives aimed at curing public ills. However, as the
problems in postindustrial society became more complex, government
lost its capacity to respond. By returning to prevention, public organizations
will be more efficient and effective for the future (Osborne and
Gaebler 1992, 219–221).
9. Decentralized Government, from Hierarchy to Participation and Teamwork:
Public entrepreneurs appreciate the role centralized organizations
served in the industrial age. These institutions represented the first steps
toward professionalization in the field of public administration. Yet, the
age of the hierarchical institution has passed. Advances in information
technology, improved communications systems, and increases in
workforce quality have brought in a new age of more flexible, teambased
organizations. Decision making has been extended throughout
the organization—placed in the hands of those who can innovate and
determine the high-performance course (Osborne and Gaebler 1992,
10. Market-Oriented Government, Leveraging Change Through the
Market: Public entrepreneurs respond to changing conditions not
with traditional approaches, such as attempting to control the entire
situation, but rather with innovative strategies aimed at shaping the
environment to allow market forces to act. Each jurisdiction—whether
a nation, a state, or a local community—represents a market, a
collection of people, interests, and social and economic forces. Public
entrepreneurs realize that these markets remain beyond the control
of any single political body. So, their strategy centers on structuring
the environment so that the market can operate most effectively,
thus ensuring quality of life and economic opportunity (Osborne and
Gaebler 1992, 280–282).
Osborne and Gaebler intended these ten principles to serve as a new
conceptual framework for public administration—an analytical checklist to
transform the actions of government. “What we are describing is nothing less
than a shift in the basic model of governance used in America. This shift is
under way all around us, but because we are not looking for it—because we
assume that all governments have to be big, centralized, and bureaucratic—we
seldom see it. We are blind to the new realities, because they do not fit our
preconceptions” (Osborne and Gaebler 1992, 321).
In the United States, the effort to “reinvent government” came later
than those in other Anglo-Saxon countries, was more highly politicized,
and, in part for that reason, had its effect less on the overall structure of
governance in the country and more on managerial practices. Two efforts
were particularly important, the National Performance Review (NPR) and
the Government Performance and Results Act. The National Performance
Review was President Bill Clinton’s effort, spearheaded by Vice President
Al Gore, to create a government that “works better and costs less.” To do so,
scores of government employees were sent throughout government agencies
seeking out ways in which operations could be streamlined and made less
costly. Specific recommendations numbered in the hundreds and including
procurement reforms, changes in personnel policy, and developments in
information technology. Moreover, there was a strong emphasis on serving
the “customers” of government. The National Performance Review, however,
took place against a political backdrop necessitating serious cutbacks
in federal employment, because this was the one activity that could produce
rapid savings. Meanwhile, the congressionally driven Government Performance
and Results Act required managers to establish specific performance
standards and to “manage for results.” Summarizing the first five years of
the National Performance Review, Kettl writes that, despite its shortcomings,
the NPR “saved a significant amount of money, brought substantial managerial
reforms (especially in customer service and procurement processes),
and promoted a more performance-based discussion about the functions of
government” (Kettl 2000a, 29).
Intellectual Support
To this point, we have discussed the New Public Management in terms of
the practical efforts undertaken in governments around the world to reform
government operations. But we should also note the various intellectual
justifications for the New Public Management. These justifications, as Lynn
(1996) notes, largely came from the “public policy” schools that developed
in the 1970s and from the “managerialist” movement around the world
(Pollitt 1993).
The policy perspective that emerged in schools of public affairs and especially
schools of public policy in the last couple of decades had its roots
more clearly in economics as opposed to the more political science–oriented
programs in public administration. Many, though certainly not all, policy
analysts and those engaged in policy evaluation were trained in or at least
familiar with economics, and quite at home with terms such as “market
economics,” “costs and benefits,” and “rational models of choice.” In turn,
these schools began to turn their attention to policy implementation, which
they called “public management” to distinguish it from the earlier “public
administration,” notwithstanding the fact that both public management and
public administration are concerned with implementing public policy through
the conduct and operation of the various agencies of government. (The two
terms can be used synonymously and often are, but if there is a difference, it is
that discussions of public management tend to show a bias toward economic
interpretations of managerial behavior as opposed to discussions of public
administration, which are more likely based in political science, sociology,
or organizational analysis.)
As the ultimate extension of the economic view, the New Public Management
is clearly linked to the rationalist perspective and, as we noted earlier,
especially public choice theory. One important variation on public choice
theory that has also influenced the development of the New Public Management
is what is called “agency theory” or “principal agent theory.” Simply
put, agency theory is concerned with the relation between principals and
agents. “Agency” refers to a situation in which one individual (the agent)
acts on behalf of another (the principal). For example, if I hire a lawyer, I
am the principal and the lawyer is my agent, but the lawyer has multiple
incentives—win the case (my goal) and maximize billable hours (his goal).
Because our objectives aren’t consistent, all sorts of problems arise. In the
New Public Management, agency theory can be employed either to analyze
issues arising within a particular bureaucracy (e.g., what incentives might a
principal provide to assume compliance on the part of an agent?) or to assess
the effects of different institutional structures (e.g., how might the multiple
interests influencing police officers’ behavior affect a decision to privatize
a police force?).
Public choice (and its companion agency theory) not only afford an elegant
and, to some, compelling model of government, they have also served as a
kind of intellectual road map for practical efforts to reduce government and
make it less costly. For example, Boston and colleagues argue that “one of
the most distinctive and striking features of New Zealand’s public management
reforms was the way they were shaped by . . . public choice theory
and organizational economics, especially agency theory” (1996, 16). As we
have seen, in its simplest form, public choice views the government from
the standpoint of markets and customers. In turn, the commitment of public
choice theory to rational choice implies a selection of values, most often a
commitment to efficiency and productivity. It is not surprising then, as Hood
suggests, that the New Public Management has clearly placed its emphasis
on values such as efficiency, eliminating waste, or matching resources to
clear goals (what he calls “sigma values”). However, he also points out that
achieving those values may come at the expense of honesty and fair dealing,
the avoidance of bias, or the pursuit of accountability (“theta values”)
or security, resilience, and the capacity to adapt (“lambda values”) (Hood
1991; see also Hood and Jackson 1991, 14).
The second intellectual justification suggests that the New Public Management
is deeply rooted in what has been termed “managerialism” or “neomanagerialism.”
In the managerialist view, business and public sector success
depends on the quality and professionalism of managers. Christopher Pollitt
has described “managerialism” as the belief that the road to social progress
is through greater productivity, that such productivity will be enhanced by
the discipline imposed by managers oriented toward greater efficiency and
productivity, and that to perform this important (even apocalyptic) role,
managers must be given what is variously termed the “freedom to manage”
or even the “right to manage” (Pollitt 1993, 1–3).
Some have argued, in addition, that the rise of the New Public Management
is attributable not only to managerialism, but to the increasing influence of
“managerialists.” Interestingly, in both New Zealand and Australia, a part of
the transformation that occurred was very clearly linked to the emergence of
a managerial class dominated by economists and those trained in economics.
The Australian scholar Anna Yeatman, for example, argues that the turn
toward managerialism in the Australian public service occurred when a large
number of university-educated candidates, highly committed to a rationalized
and task-oriented concept of public administration, were hired into high-level
positions (Yeatman 1987). Michael Pusey of the University of New South
Wales supports that view, arguing that, in Australia’s central agencies, staff
drawn from economics or business-related professions—a group he terms
“economic rationalists”—were able to capture the line bureaucracies and,
especially by threatening to withhold resources, draw them into the rationalist
perspective (Pusey 1991).
We have seen that the New Public Management, as the Old Public Administration
before it, is not just about the implementation of new techniques, but
that it carries with it a new set of values, a set of values in this case largely
drawn from market economics and business management. As already noted,
there is a longstanding tradition in public administration supporting the idea
that “government should be run like a business.” For the most part, this recommendation
has meant that government agencies should adopt those practices,
ranging from “scientific management” to “total quality management,” that
have been found useful in the private sector. The New Public Management
takes this idea one step further, arguing that government should adopt not
only the techniques of business administration but certain business values as
well. Today, the New Public Management is presented as a normative model
for public administration and public management.
Engaging the Debate
Certainly the New Public Management has not been without its critics.
Many scholars and practitioners have expressed concerns about the implications
of the New Public Management and the role for public managers this
model suggests. For example, in a Public Administration Review symposium
on leadership, democracy, and public management, a number of authors
thoughtfully considered the opportunities and challenges presented by the
New Public Management. Those challenging the New Public Management
in the symposium and elsewhere ask questions about the inherent contradictions
in the movement (Fox 1996), the values it promotes (Frederickson
1996; deLeon and Denhardt 2000; Schachter 1997), the tensions between the
emphasis on decentralization promoted in the market model and the need for
coordination in the public sector (Peters and Savoie 1996), and the implied
roles and relationships of the executive and legislative branches (Carroll and
Lynn 1996). Others have questioned the implications of the privatization
movement for democratic values and the public interest (McCabe and Vinzant
1999) and how entrepreneurship and what Terry (1993, 1998) has called
“neomanagerialism” threaten to undermine democratic and constitutional
values such as fairness, justice, representation, and participation.
Osborne and Gaebler (1992) told us to steer, not row, the boat. Our question
is this: As the field of public administration has increasingly abandoned
the idea of rowing and accepted responsibility for steering, has it simply
traded one “adminicentric” view for another? In other words, have we traded
one model in which public managers seek to achieve greater efficiency and
productivity by controlling their agencies and their clients for another model
in which the same thing occurs? Osborne and Gaebler write, “those who
steer the boat have far more power over its destination than those who row
it” (1992, 32). If that is the case, the shift from rowing to steering may have
not only left administrators in charge of the boat—choosing its goals and
directions and charting a path to achieve them—but also given them more
power to do so.
In our rush to steer, perhaps we are forgetting who owns the boat. In their
book, Government Is Us (1998), King and Stivers remind us that the government
belongs to its citizens (see also Box 1998; Cooper 1991; King, Feltey,
and O’Neill 1998; Stivers 1994a, 1994b; Thomas 1995). Accordingly, public
administrators should focus on their responsibility to serve and empower
citizens as they manage public organizations and implement public policy. In
other words, with citizens at the forefront, the emphasis should not be placed
on either steering or rowing the governmental boat, but rather on building
public institutions marked by integrity and responsiveness.
Importantly, in making their case, proponents of New Public Management
have often used the Old Public Administration as the foil against which principles
of entrepreneurship can be seen as clearly superior. Note, for example,
how Osborne and Gaebler contrast their principles to an alternative of rigid
bureaucracies plagued with excessive rules, restricted by rule-bound budgeting
and personnel systems, and preoccupied with control. These traditional
bureaucracies are described as ignoring citizens, shunning innovation, and
serving their own needs. According to Osborne and Gaebler, “The kind of
governments that developed during the industrial era, with their sluggish,
centralized bureaucracies, their preoccupation with rules and regulations,
and their hierarchical chains of command, no longer work very well” (1992,
11–12). In fact, while they served their earlier purposes, “bureaucratic institutions
. . . increasingly fail us” (15).
If the principles of New Public Management are compared with the Old
Public Administration, the New Public Management clearly looks like a preferred
alternative. But even a cursory examination of the literature in public
administration clearly demonstrates that these two approaches do not fully
embrace contemporary government theory or practice (Box 1998; Bryson
and Crosby 1992; Carnavale 1995; Cook 1996; Cooper 1991; deLeon 1997;
Denhardt 1993; Farmer 1995; Fox and Miller 1995; Frederickson 1997;
Gawthrop 1998; Goodsell 1994; Harmon 1995; Hummel 1994; Ingraham
et al. 1994; Light 1997; Luke 1998; McSwite 1997; Miller and Fox 1997;
Perry 1996; Rabin, Hildreth, and Miller 1998; Rohr 1998; Stivers 1993; Terry
1995, 1998; Thomas 1995; Vinzant and Crothers 1998; Wamsley et al. 1990;
Wamsley and Wolf 1996). The field of public administration, of course, has
not been stuck in progressive reform rhetoric for the last hundred years.
Instead, there has been a rich and vibrant intellectual and practical evolution
in thought and practice, with important and substantial developments that
cannot be subsumed under the title “New Public Management.” Thus there
are more than two choices.
We reject the notion that the reinvented, market-oriented New Public
Management should be compared only to the Old Public Administration,
which, despite its many important contributions, has come to be seen as
synonymous with bureaucracy, hierarchy, and control. As we said, if that is
the comparison, the New Public Management will always win. In contrast, we
will suggest that what is missing in the debate is a set of organizing principles
for a more contemporary alternative to the New Public Management. We
would like to suggest that the New Public Management should be contrasted
with what we will term the New Public Service, a set of ideas about the role
of public administration in the governance system that places public service,
democratic governance, and civic engagement at the center.
Chapter 2
The Roots of the New Public Service
In the first chapter, we traced the development of the Old Public Administration
and the New Public Management. Before moving on, it will be helpful
to review some of the themes that emerged in that analysis. First, for at
least the first three quarters of the twentieth century, the mainstream model
of public administration was that articulated by writers such as Woodrow
Wilson, Frederick Taylor, Luther Gulick, and Herbert Simon. Even though
many of its advocates portrayed orthodox public administration as neutral
with respect to values, it wasn’t. It was a normative model for the conduct
of public agencies. Among the value choices made in the construction of
this model were a particular description of the public administrator’s role,
especially in relation to the political (or policy) process, the choice of efficiency
(as opposed to responsiveness, etc.) as the primary criterion for assessing
the work of administrative agencies, and an emphasis on designing
public agencies as largely closed systems, featuring a single “controlling”
executive having substantial authority and operating in a top-down fashion.
Perhaps the most striking feature of this model, evident in its early versions
but especially clear in its later versions, was the use of “rational choice” as
the primary theoretical foundation of public administration.
Second, despite the dominance of this model, the prevailing assumptions
of the mainstream version of the Old Public Administration were countered,
frequently and eloquently, by a series of writers and practitioners who
argued for greater discretion, greater responsiveness, and greater openness
in the administrative process. These alternative views—which we would
associate with figures such as Marshall Dimock, Robert Dahl, and, most of all,
Dwight Waldo—provided a counterpoint to the overall model, important to
remember and often accepted in particular situations, but rarely if ever
dominant. Indeed, it might be proper to say that these ideas were “embedded”
within the prevailing model, to which they were largely subservient.
Third, the New Public Management has presented itself as an alternative
to the traditional “bureaucratic” way of conducting the public’s “business.”
The New Public Management holds that government should engage in only
those activities that cannot be privatized or contracted out and that, more
generally, market mechanisms should be employed wherever possible so
that citizens will be presented with choices among service delivery options.
In addition, the New Public Management suggests a special role for managers,
especially entrepreneurial managers, who are given greater latitude
in improving efficiency and productivity, primarily through “managing for
results.” Finally, the New Public Management suggests that public managers
“steer rather than row,” that is, that they move toward becoming monitors of
policy implementation or purchasers of services rather than being directly
involved in service delivery itself. At the base of these recommendations,
there are theoretical commitments to such ideas as public choice theory;
agency theory; and, in general, the use of economic models in the design
and implementation of public policy
What is interesting is that while the New Public Management has been
touted as an alternative to the Old Public Administration, it actually has
much in common with the mainstream model of public administration,
specifically a dependence on and commitment to models of rational choice.
For example, as we discussed earlier, principal agent theory can be applied
to the relationship between public executives and those who report to them.
When used in this way, a central question would be: What incentive structure
is appropriate to secure the cooperation or even compliance of lower
employees? Such an approach bears striking similarity to Herbert Simon’s
inducements-contributions model of a half-century ago. In that view, a chief
question facing the organization’s “controlling group” is how to provide sufficient
and appropriate inducements so that lower participants would contribute
to the work of the organization. In either case, what makes the model work
is a commitment to rational choice. So while there are clearly differences
between the Old Public Administration and the New Public Management, the
basic theoretical foundations of these two “mainstream” versions of public
administration and public policy are in fact very much alike.
In contrast to these mainstream models of public administration or public
management that are rooted in the idea of rational choice, we suggest an alternative,
the New Public Service (see Table 1 on pages 28–29). Like the New
Public Management and the Old Public Administration, the New Public Service
consists of many diverse elements, and many different scholars and practitioners
have contributed, often in disagreement with one another. Yet there are certain
general ideas that seem to characterize this approach as a normative model and
to distinguish it from others. Certainly the New Public Service can lay claim to
an impressive intellectual heritage, including the work of those we mentioned
earlier who provided constructive dissent to the rationalist prescriptions of the
mainstream model (e.g., Dimock, Dahl, and Waldo). However, here we will
focus on more contemporary precursors of the New Public Service, including
(1) theories of democratic citizenship, (2) models of community and civil
society, (3) organizational humanism and the new public administration, and
(4) postmodern public administration. We will then outline what we see as the
main tenets of the New Public Service.
Democratic Citizenship
Concerns about citizenship and democracy are particularly important and
visible in political and social theory, both of which call for a reinvigorated
and more active and involved citizenship (Barber 1984, 1998; Mansbridge
1990, 1994; Pateman 1970; Sandel 1996). But citizenship can be viewed
in different ways. A first and obvious definition focuses on the rights and
obligations of citizens as defined by the legal system; that is, citizenship is
seen as a legal status. An alternative, broader view considers citizenship as
concerned with more general issues related to the nature of one’s membership
in a political community, including such issues as the rights and responsibilities
of citizens, regardless of their legal status (Turner 1993, 3). In this
view, citizenship is concerned with the individual’s capacity to influence the
political system; it implies active involvement in political life. It is this latter
view we will focus on here and throughout this book.
Beyond these definitional concerns, there are different ways to understand
what is involved in democratic citizenship. For example, one might argue
that government exists primarily in order to advance the economic interests
of the community and individuals within the community. In this case, the
state and the relationship of citizens to the state should be based simply on
the idea of self-interest. According to Sandel (1996), the prevailing model
of the relationship between state and citizens is in fact based on the idea that
government exists to ensure that citizens can make choices consistent with
their self-interest by guaranteeing certain procedures (such as voting) and
individual rights. The role of government is to make sure that the interplay of
individual self-interests operates freely and fairly. Obviously, this perspective
is consistent with public choice economics and the New Public Management
(see Kamensky 1996), and public choice theorists have largely endorsed this
view. For example, James Buchanan, a leading public choice theorist, has
Table 1
Comparing Perspectives: Old Public Administration, New Public Management, and New Public Service
Old Public Administration New Public Management New Public Service
Primary theoretical
and epistemological
Political theory,
social and political
augmented by naive
social science
Economic theory, more
sophisticated dialogue
based on positivist
social science
Democratic theory,
varied approaches to
knowledge including
positive, interpretive,
and critical
Prevailing rationality and
associated models of
human behavior
Synoptic rationality,
“administrative man”
Technical and economic
rationality, “economic
man,” or the selfinterested
Strategic or formal
rationality, multiple
tests of rationality
(political, economic,
and organizational)
Conception of the public
Public interest is
politically defined and
expressed in law
Public interest
represents the
aggregation of
individual interests
Public interest is the
result of a dialogue
about shared values
To whom are public
servants responsive
Clients and constituents Customers Citizens
Role of government Rowing (designing and
implementing policies
focusing on a single,
politically defined
Steering (acting as
a catalyst to unleash
market forces)
Serving (negotiating
and brokering interests
among citizens and
community groups,
creating shared values)
Mechanisms for
achieving policy
Administering programs
through existing
government agencies
Creating mechanisms
and incentive structures
to achieve policy
objectives through
private and nonprofit
Building coalitions of
public, nonprofit, and
private agencies to
meet mutually agreed
upon needs
Approach to
are responsible to
democratically elected
political leaders
accumulation of selfinterests
will result in
outcomes desired by
broad groups of citizens
(or customers)
servants must attend
to law, community
values, political norms,
professional standards,
and citizen interests
Administrative discretion Limited discretion
allowed administrative
Wide latitude to meet
entrepreneurial goals
Discretion needed
but constrained and
Assumed organizational
organizations marked
by top-down authority
within agencies and
control or regulation of
Decentralized public
organizations with
primary control
remaining within the
Collaborative structures
with leadership shared
internally and externally
Assumed motivational
basis of public servants
and administrators
Pay and benefits, civilservice
Entrepreneurial spirit,
ideological desire
to reduce size of
Public service, desire to
contribute to society
argued that while altruism often enters into public deliberations, political
institutions should be designed so as to minimize the extent to which institutions
rely on altruistic behavior (quoted in Mansbridge 1994, 153).
Others have argued that political altruism, or what Mansbridge calls
“public spirit,” plays an important, even an essential role in the process of
democratic governance. Sandel, for example, offers an alternative view of
democratic citizenship in which individuals are much more actively engaged
in governance. Citizens look beyond their self-interest to the larger public
interest, adopting a broader and more long-term perspective that requires a
knowledge of public affairs and also a sense of belonging, a concern for the
whole, and a moral bond with the community whose fate is at stake (Sandel
1996, 5–6). Mansbridge argues that this view of citizenship provides a
certain “glue” that holds the political system together. In her view, public
spirit (or political altruism) involves both love and duty, each playing an
important role:
If I make your good my own through empathy (love), I will be less likely
to act in ways that hurt you. If I make the collective good my own (love of
nation), I will forgo my individual benefit for that good. If I am committed
to a principle that for one reason or another prescribes cooperation, I will
forgo self-interest for reasons of duty. (Mansbridge 1994, 147)
Mansbridge is quick to point out, however, that unrestrained altruism is
not necessarily good. There is the possibility that political elites might manipulate
public spirit through indoctrination or charisma, through limiting
the possibilities of its expression, or through structuring public debate so
that challenges to their power are prohibited.
Public spirit needs to be nourished and maintained, and that can be
aided by constant attention to principles of justice, public participation, and
deliberation. A sense of justice evokes strong emotions in those who feel
mistreated or exploited, and their resistance can often become quite forceful.
On the other hand, a political system that seems intent on promoting justice
is likely to engender affection and involvement. Participation is a second
device for promoting public spirit. Those who are involved in decisions feel
better about those decisions and are more likely to aid in their implementation;
but participation can be structured so as to give people a false sense of
involvement, so must be balanced with conditions of open deliberation and
discourse. Deliberation can clarify and sometimes ameliorate perceived differences;
it can provide a common ground of information so that people are
at least starting “on the same page”; and it can build a sense of solidarity and
commitment to solutions that may be proposed. “And good deliberation will
often lead all but the most contrary-minded to change at least some of their
preferences, sometimes producing agreement, sometimes clarifying conflict
in ways that reveal what steps to take next” (Mansbridge 1994, 156).
Note that this alternative view of citizenship does not suggest the elimination
of self-interest as an individual or social motive or its naive replacement
by the notion of public spirit. To do so would neglect important and appropriate
concerns—as well as longstanding debates in America and elsewhere.
But this view does suggest a balancing of these “motives” and ultimately a
recognition of the primary importance of civic virtue and the public interest,
such as we might expect in a democratic society. The idea of deliberation,
for example, suggests an initial interchange between ideas borne out of selfinterest,
but it also suggests that such interchange may open one to new ideas
and even to new practices, including some that may eventually be pursued
even though they may work against narrow self-interest.
In any case, there have been increasing calls for a restoration of a citizenship
based on civic interests rather than self-interest. In this view, citizens
would be concerned with the broad public interest, they would be active
and involved, and they would assume responsibility for others. As Evans
and Boyte put it so eloquently, a reinvigorated notion of citizenship would
a concern for the common good, the welfare of the community as a whole,
willingness to honor the rights for others that one possesses, tolerance of
diverse religious, political, and social beliefs, acceptance of the primacy
of the community’s decisions over one’s own private inclinations, and a
recognition of one’s obligations to defend and serve the public. (Evans
and Boyte 1986, 5)
In other words, citizens would do what citizens are supposed to do in a
democracy—they would run the government. As they did so, they would
contribute not only to the society’s betterment, but also to their own growth
as active and responsible human beings.
Though we will elaborate this point later (indeed, throughout this book),
these lessons concerning a more active and vital citizenship have clearly
found their way into the literature and practice of public administration. An
early symposium on “citizenship and public administration,” published in
the Public Administration Review, considered a variety of theoretical and
practical issues connecting emerging ideas of civics and citizenship to the
profession of public administration (Frederickson and Chandler 1984). Two
important books, Government Is Us (King and Stivers 1998) and Citizen
Governance (Box 1998), have focused on how public administrators might
contribute to the creation of a more citizen-centered government. Consistent
with this perspective, King and Stivers (1998) assert that administrators
should see citizens as citizens (rather than merely voters, clients, or “customers”),
should share authority and reduce control, and should trust in the
efficacy of collaboration. Moreover, in contrast to managerialist calls for
greater efficiency, King and Stivers suggest that public managers should
seek greater responsiveness and a corresponding increase in citizen trust.
Box moves the argument specifically to the local government level, suggesting
ways in which local governments might be restructured to allow for
great citizen involvement in the governance process. As we will see, these
and other adaptations of recent work in democratic theory, and especially
theories of citizenship and civic engagement, have contributed to what we
will term the New Public Service.
Models of Community and Civil Society
We can also locate important roots of the New Public Service in discussions
about community and civil society. The widespread current interest
in community is an interesting phenomenon, arising as it does in so many
different arenas (Bellah et al. 1985, 1991; Etzioni 1988, 1995; Gardner 1991;
Selznick 1992; Wolfe 1989) and being articulated by commentators of both
the left and the right. On the one hand, those toward the left see community
as an antidote to the excessive and unrestrained greed and self-interest that
marks modern society, a cure for individualism run rampant. Meanwhile,
those toward the right see community as an avenue to restore basic American
values that were once held, but are now being challenged by forces that seem
to be beyond our making or our control.
Why so many should be interested in community is an interesting question.
Some suggest that Americans have become alienated by the overwhelming
force of a technological society, epitomized by the assembly line or the
computer, and seek a return to more “human” associations. Others blame the
social and political dislocations connected with the Vietnam War and the Civil
Rights movement, and hope for a time and circumstance of greater gentility
and perhaps remorse. Still others cite the excesses of capitalism and the moral
ineptitude of those involved in questionable market practices and “insider
trading” schemes as requiring a renewed sense of social responsibility. Still
others become wary at the prospect of a global economy not necessarily
dominated by the United States and hope for economic certainty. Finally,
some point to the degradation of the environment and the possible end of
human existence implied by the existence of weapons of mass destruction;
they want ecological balance and security. All seem to somehow recognize
that life has gotten “out of control” and that people need a way to take back
their lives.
In any case, community has become a dominant theme in American life.
While different writers focus on different aspects of community, the work of
John Gardner is exemplary in its clarity and persuasiveness. Gardner (1991)
holds that a sense of community, which might be derived from many different
levels of human association from the neighborhood to the work group, might
provide a helpful mediating structure between the individual and society.
Gardner writes, “In our system, the ‘common good’ is first of all preservation
of a system in which all kinds of people can—within the law—pursue their
various visions of the common good, and at the same time accomplish the
kinds of mutual accommodation that make a social system livable and workable.
The play of conflicting interests in a framework of shared purposes is
the drama of a free society” (1991, 15). The shared values of a community,
according to Gardner, are important, but he urges that we also recognize that
wholeness must also incorporate diversity. Gardner writes,
To prevent wholeness from smothering diversity, there must be a philosophy
of pluralism, an open climate for dissent, and an opportunity for
sub-communities to retain their identity and share in the setting of larger
group goals. To prevent diversity from destroying wholeness, there must be
institutional arrangements for diminishing polarization, for teaching diverse
groups to know one another, for coalition-building, dispute resolution,
negotiation and mediation. Of course the existence of a healthy community
is in itself an instrument of conflict resolution. (Gardner 1991, 16)
Beyond these features, according to Gardner and others, community is
based on caring, trust, and teamwork, bound together by a strong and effective
system for communications and conflict resolution. The interactive
nature of community mediates between and reconciles the individual and the
collectivity. Rosabeth Moss Kantor, the well-known management theorist,
comments on this idea in some of her early work on community. She writes,
“the search for community is also a quest for direction and purpose in the
collective anchoring of the individual life. Investment of self in a community,
acceptance of its authority and willingness to support its life can offer
identity, personal meaning, and the opportunity to grow in terms of standards
and guiding principles that the member feels are expressive of his own inner
being” (Kantor 1972, 73).
In part, this effort depends on building a healthy and active set of “mediating
institutions” that simultaneously serve to give focus to the desires
and interests of citizens and to provide experiences that will better prepare
those citizens for action in the larger political system. As Robert Putnam
(2000) argues, America’s democratic tradition is dependent on the existence
of civically engaged citizens, active in all sorts of groups, associations, and
governmental units. Families, work groups, churches, civic associations,
neighborhood groups, voluntary organization clubs, and social groups—even
athletic teams—help establish connections between the individual and the
larger society. Collectively, these small groups constitute a “civil society”
in which people need to work out their personal interests in the context of
community concerns. Civil society is one place where citizens can engage
one another in the kind of personal dialogue and deliberation that is the essence
not only of community building, but of democracy itself.
A great deal of commentary on the notion of citizenship and civil society
has focused on the apparently decreasing involvement of American citizens
in politics and government. People seem disillusioned with government,
they are withdrawing from the political process, and they are becoming more
and more isolated in their private spaces. Public opinion polls, for example,
have shown a sharp decrease in people’s trust in government, especially at
the federal level. For several decades, the University of Michigan’s Survey
Research Center has been gathering Americans’ responses to the question,
“How much of the time do you trust the government in Washington to do
the right thing?” Forty-five years ago, more than three out of every four
Americans said that they trusted the government “just about always” or “most
of the time.” Today fewer than one out of four give this response. Trust in
government seems to be at an all-time low.
Some, however, have argued for a more balanced view. David Mathews
of the Kettering Foundation, for example, has suggested that, while the interest
of citizens in the political process may have been sublimated over the
years, it is not dead. Mathews (1994) cites a Kettering-sponsored study that
discovered strong feelings of powerlessness and exclusion among citizens,
but also deep concerns and an untapped sense of civic duty. Citizens felt
great frustration and anger that “they had been pushed out of the political
system by a professional political class of powerful lobbyists, incumbent
politicians, campaign managers and a media elite. They saw the system as
one in which votes no longer made any difference because money ruled. They
saw a system with its doors closed to the average citizen” (Mathews 1994,
12–15). As a consequence, citizens felt alienated and detached.
On the other hand, citizens still want to act. They are proud of their communities
and their country and they want to help bring about positive change.
In fact, many citizens are becoming engaged in political activities of a new
sort, not spending their time in electoral or party politics, which they see as
closed and impenetrable, but in grass-roots citizen-based movements within
neighborhoods, work groups, and associations. These activities constitute
laboratories of citizenship, arenas in which people are seeking to work out
new relationships with one another and the larger political order, relationships
cognizant of the dilemmas of participation imposed by the modern world,
but also informed by the new possibilities for activism and involvement that
modern conditions offer (Boyte and Kari 1996; Lappé and DuBois 1994).
There also seems to be an important role for government in encouraging
community building and civil society. Interestingly, many progressive
and forward-looking civic and political leaders are coming to recognize the
importance and the viability of such efforts—and are becoming involved
themselves. Political leaders are reaching out to citizens in substantial ways,
both through modern information technology and more conventional means.
Similarly, public managers are redefining their role with respect to the involvement
of citizens in the governmental process (Thomas 1995). Again,
as King and Stivers (1998) point out, government can play an important and
critical role in creating, facilitating, and supporting connections between
citizens and their communities.
How are public administrators affected by and how do they affect community
and civil society? While this question will occupy us throughout the
remainder of this book, there are several general comments we can make at the
outset. First, where strong networks of citizen interaction and high levels of
social trust and cohesion among citizens exist, public administrators can count
on these existing stocks of social capital to build even stronger networks, to
open new avenues for dialogue and debate, and to further educate citizens
with respect to matters of democratic governance (Woolum 2000). Second,
public administrators can contribute to building community and social capital.
Some are arguing today that the primary role of the public administrator is
that of building community (Nalbandian 1999). Others certainly argue that
public administrators can play an active role in promoting social capital by
encouraging citizen involvement in public decision making. Based on their
experience in conducting broad-scale efforts in civic engagement, Joseph
Gray and Linda Chapin comment, “citizens don’t always get what they want,
but including them personalizes the work we do—connects public administration
to the public. And this connection leads to understanding for both
citizens and administrators” (1998, 192). Such an understanding enriches
both government and the community.
Organizational Humanism and the New Public Administration
A third important theoretical root of the New Public Service is organizational
humanism. Over the past thirty years, public administration theorists have
joined colleagues in other disciplines in suggesting that traditional hierarchical
approaches to social organization are restrictive in their view of human
behavior, and they have joined in a critique of bureaucracy and a search for
alternative approaches to management and organization. Collectively, these
approaches have sought to fashion public organizations less dominated by
issues of authority and control and more attentive to the needs and concerns
of internal and external constituents.
Just as writers such as Dimock, Dahl, and Waldo provided a contrast to
the prevailing view of public administration theory, writers such as Chris
Argyris and Robert Golembiewski provided counterpoint to the prevailing
view of organizational management through the last part of the twentieth
century. In an early book, Personality and Organization, Argyris explored
the impact of traditional management practices on the psychological development
of individuals within complex organizations. Argyris noted
that studies of the human personality indicated that people growing from
infancy to adulthood move from passivity to activity, from dependence to
independence, from a limited range of behaviors to a greater range, from
shallow to deeper interests, from shorter to longer time perspectives, from a
subordinate position to a position of equality or superordination, and from a
lack of awareness to greater awareness (1957, 50). In contrast, what Argyris
saw as the standard management practices of that time (and one could argue
that they have not changed all that much even today) seemed to inhibit the
development of employees rather than enhancing it. For example, in most
organizations, people have relatively little control over their work. In many
cases, they are expected to be submissive, dependent, and limited in what
they can do. Such an arrangement ultimately backfires, Argyris argued, as it
limits the contributions employees can make to the organization. In order to
promote individual growth as well as improved organizational performance,
Argyris sought an approach to management in which managers would
develop and employ “skill in self-awareness, in effective diagnosing, in
helping individuals grow and become more creative, [and] in coping with
dependent-oriented . . . employees” (Argyris 1962, 213). As Argyris’s work
matured, he increasingly focused on ways that organizations could move in
this direction through programs of planned change known as “organization
We should note that Argyris’s ideas stood in direct contrast to the prevailing
rational model of administration, articulated most clearly, as we
saw, by Herbert Simon. Indeed, in 1973, Argyris used the pages of Public
Administration Review to explore some limitations of the rational model
(Argyris 1973). Argyris began by pointing out that Simon’s rational model
is quite similar to traditional administrative theory, in which management
defines the objectives of the organization and the tasks to be performed, as
well as training, rewarding, and penalizing employees—all within the framework
of formal pyramidal structures in which authority flows from the top
down. What Simon adds to this model is a focus on rational behavior, that
is, behavior that can be defined in terms of means and ends. (Again, in this
view “rational” is not concerned with broad philosophical concepts such as
freedom or justice, but rather with how people can efficiently accomplish the
work of the organization.) Given this emphasis, the rational model focuses
on “the consistent, programmable, organized, thinking activities of man,” it
gives “primacy to behavior that is related to goals,” and assumes “purpose
without asking how it has developed” (Argyris 1973, 261).
Such a view fails to acknowledge the full range of human experience, the
fact that people act spontaneously, that they experience chaos and unpredictability
in their lives, and that they act on feelings and emotions that are
far from rational. Moreover, because human growth is not a fully rational
process, organizations built on this model would not support the growth,
development, and “self-actualization” of the individual. Rather the rational
model would give preference to those changes that would improve the
rationality (the efficiency) of the organization. Those changes would likely
be highly conservative, reinforcing the status quo by focusing “more on
what is than is than what might be” (Argyris 1973, 261). In contrast to this
view, Argyris urges greater attention to “individual morality, authenticity,
(and) human self-actualization,” attributes associated with the “human side
of enterprise” (253).
In the field of public administration, the organization development (OD)
perspective has been explored most thoroughly by Robert Golembiewski.
In an early work, Men, Management, and Morality (1967), Golembiewski
developed a critique of traditional theories of organization, with their emphasis
on top-down authority, hierarchical control, and standard operating
procedures, arguing that such approaches reflect an insensitivity to the moral
posture of the individual, specifically the question of individual freedom.
In contrast, Golembiewski sought a way to “enlarge the area of discretion
open to us in organizing and to increase individual freedom” (1967, 305).
Following an OD perspective, Golembiewski urged managers to create an
open problem-solving climate through the organization so that members can
confront problems rather than fight about or flee from them. He encouraged
them to build trust among individuals and groups throughout the organization,
to supplement or even replace the authority of role or status with
the authority of knowledge and competence. He suggested that decisionmaking
and problem-solving responsibilities be located as close as possible
to information sources and to make competition, where it exists, contribute
to meeting work goals as opposed to win-lose competition. He said the idea
was to maximize collaboration between individual and units whose work
is interdependent and to develop reward systems that recognize both the
achievement of the organization’s mission and the growth and development
of the organization’s members. Managers should work, he said, to increase
self-control and self-direction for people within the organization, to create
conditions under which conflict is surfaced and managed appropriately and
positively, and to increase awareness of group process and its consequences
for performance (Denhardt 1999, 405).
Interestingly, Golembiewski, like Argyris, contrasted his more humanistic
view of organization with the rational choice model, in this case through a
critique of the public choice model. Golembiewski first argued that the assumption
of classical rationality is a methodological construct that simply
doesn’t reflect reality (a point that even public choice theorists acknowledge).
People don’t always act rationally or even approximate rational behavior.
To base a theory of choice on the assumption that they do, means that one
is limited to logical propositions about how people would behave if they
did act rationally. Such a view, Golembiewski argues, neglects important
political or emotional considerations, which should be taken into account
in developing any comprehensive theory of human behavior. Otherwise,
one might conclude, with Norton Long, that public choice theorists “argue
with elegant and impeccable logic about unicorns” (quoted in Golembiewski
1977, 1492).
Other important contributions to constructing more humanistic organizations
in the public sector were made by a group of scholars collectively known
as the New Public Administration, essentially the public administration
counterpart to the late sixties/early seventies radical movements in society
generally and in other social science disciplines. While the New Public
Administration was never a very coherent movement, with its contributors
often differing substantially with one another, some of the ideas associated
with the New Public Administration are important to recall. Certainly with
respect to the issue of organizational humanism, several of the scholars
during that period emphasized the need to explore alternatives to the traditional
top-down, hierarchical model of bureaucratic organization. Indicting
the old model for its objectification and depersonalization of organizational
members and calling for models built around openness, trust, and honest
communications, these scholars discussed alternatives with such names as
the “dialectical organization” and the “consociated model.” Denhardt put
it this way in his book In the Shadow of Organization: “The creation of
settings in which creativity and dialogue can occur, in which mutuality and
respect contribute both to individual growth and development as well as to
enabling groups and organizations to deal more effectively and responsibly
with environmental complexity, is an effort that begins with the acts of individuals”
(1981, xii).
We should note that the New Public Administration contributed other dissenting
viewpoints to the mainstream discussion of public administration.
Specifically, there was an argument for having administrators play a more
active role in the development of public policy than had previously been the
case, in part because the complexity of contemporary problems required
the expertise of professionally trained administrators and their associated
technical specialists, and in part simply because “somebody has to take on
the challenges.” There was a more explicit recognition and discussion of the
role of values in public administration. For example, George Frederickson,
in his New Public Administration, argued in behalf of social equity as a guiding
concept in administrative and political decision making, “It is incumbent
on the public servant to be able to develop and defend criteria and measures
of equity and to understand the impact of public services on the dignity and
well-being of citizens” (1980, 46). Essentially, providing equitable solutions
to public problems involves not just offering the same services to all but
greater levels of service to those in greater need. Frederickson argues that
public administration is not neutral and certainly should not be judged by the
criterion of efficiency alone. Rather, concepts such as equality, equity, and
responsiveness should also come into play.
A fourth important theoretical root of New Public Service is postmodernism.
In the late sixties and early seventies, scholars in public administration
began to explore more critically the approach to knowledge acquisition
that underlay the mainstream rational model of administration. The basis
for this exploration was the idea that mainstream public administration,
like other social sciences, had become dependent on a particular approach
to knowledge acquisition—positivism—and that this approach subtly but
dramatically limited the range of thinking possible in the field. To put it
simply, the positivist approach argues that social sciences can be understood
using the same approaches employed in the natural sciences. In this view,
the facts of social or organizational life can be separated from values; the
role of science is to focus on fact rather than value. Facts can be observed
and measured, just as the behavior of physical or chemical elements can be
measured. In turn, concepts and theories can be built based on these observations
of “manifest behavior.” The positivist approach was acknowledged as
the foundation of Simon’s rational model of administration and clearly came
to dominate other aspects of the study of public administration, especially
the policy sciences.
Critics of this view pointed out that observing human behavior “from the
outside” tells us far less than understanding the meaning of human action.
For example, you might see a man running through the woods, but you would
know more about what was happening if you knew he was a criminal fleeing
the sheriff. Similarly, in social life, facts and values are extremely difficult
to separate and, indeed, in many cases, values are more important than facts
in understanding human action. In any case, since human behavior differs
from time to time and from culture to culture, it’s impossible to formulate
the same kind of enduring lawlike statements that the hard sciences seek.
Moreover, describing human action in terms of “objective” observations
and “law-like relationships” fails to recognize the nonrational components
of human experience—intuitions, emotions, and feelings. Finally, scholars
pointed out that social science is not neutral (as it claims); the measurement
of human behavior can affect the behavior, as in the Hawthorne experiments
when workers reacted more to the fact they were being observed than to
changes the researchers made in their work environment.
On the one hand, critics pointed out that reliance on the positivist model
reinforced tendencies toward objectification and depersonalization that were
already part of the mainstream model of public administration. On the other
hand, they also argued that relying on positivism alone simply didn’t permit
the fullest and most complete understanding of the meanings and values
that are so much a part of human life. In a search for alternatives, scholars
turned to interpretive approaches to knowledge acquisition, approaches that
focused on understanding the meanings that people bring to their experiences,
especially those experiences that they share with others. Others turned to a
value-critical examination of the forces that underlie human experiences,
especially those forces of power and domination that distort communications
among human beings. Through approaches such as these, scholars hoped to
build alternatives approaches to the study and practice of public administration,
alternatives more sensitive to values (not just facts), to subjective human
meaning (not just objective behavior), and to the full range of emotions and
feelings involved in relationships between and among real people.
These ideas have been even further extended in recent efforts to employ
the perspectives of postmodern thinking, especially discourse theory, in
understanding public organizations. While there are significant differences
among the various postmodern theorists, they seem to arrive at a similar
conclusion—because we are dependent on one another in the postmodern
world, governance must increasingly be based on sincere and open discourse
among all parties, including citizens and administrators. And while postmodPOSTMODERNISM
ern public administration theorists are skeptical of traditional approaches to
public participation, there seems to be considerable agreement that enhanced
public dialogue is required in order to reinvigorate the public bureaucracy
and restore a sense of legitimacy to the field of public administration.
While postmodernism is extremely complex and diverse, most postmodernists
would argue that a problem we face today is that we have lost the
capacity to tell what is real. All those previously held “world-views,” as
well as “scientific explanations” that seemed to work in the past, have been
revealed to have fatal flaws, most of these related to the fact that these explanations
were the products of particular places and particular times and could
only address the world from that largely unique standpoint. If we create the
world through our language and our interactions, then there will inevitably
be limitations on what we can claim to be “real.”
The situation is even more complicated because a vast and confusing
world of symbolism has come to dominate our thinking and our feeling. For
example, in television commercials, sex is used to sell cars and frogs are used
to sell beer. The communication is all one way. We, the passive viewers, don’t
have a chance to talk back. Ultimately these symbols, and others like them
in the worlds of art, music, architecture, and politics (to name only a few),
come to replace the “reality” from which they grew and to constitute the only
culture we share in common. At the cultural level we can communicate with
each other only in terms of abstractions devoid of “reality.” More and more,
we are forced to recognize that the only authentic communication in which
we can fully engage is face-to-face interaction based on our recognition of
the other as a self we share.
Public administration theorists employing the postmodern perspective are
particularly critical of the field’s apparent preoccupation with rationalism
(especially market-based rational choice theory) and technocratic expertise.
“In bureaucracy, the world of robust social action is displaced by the world of
rationally organized action. Obedience of hierarchically commanded routines
supersedes empathetic relationships with others. . . . In monologic communication
there is no back-and-forth, no opportunity to engage in a verbal
struggle to define a problem and decide what should be done about it” (Fox and
Miller 1997, 70–71). In contrast, postmodern public administration theorists
have a central commitment to the idea of “discourse,” the notion that public
problems are more likely resolved through discourse than through “objective”
measurements or rational analysis (McSwite 1997, 377). The ideal of authentic
discourse sees administrators and citizens as engaging fully with one another,
not merely as rationally self-interested individuals being brought together
to talk, but as participants in a relationship in which they engage with one
another as human beings. The resulting process of negotiation and consensus
building is one in which individuals engage with one another as they engage
with themselves, fully embracing all aspects of the human personality, not
merely rational, but experiential, intuitive, and emotional. But that change
is an immensely difficult one, requiring that we come to understand (1) how
it is possible to act without relying on reason and (2) how to come to terms
with the idea of otherness. O.C. McSwite offers a practical first step—to open
ourselves to one another. “The alternative is to listen, to become hollowed
out, and to receive the other as oneself. This . . . is not so much the end of
reason as its transformation. . . . By making people and their lives an object
in its contemplations, reason separates us from one another when the reality
of the human condition is, I am you” (1997, 276–277).
The New Public Service
Theorists of citizenship, community and civil society, organizational humanism
and the new public administration, and postmodernism have helped
to establish a climate in which it makes sense today to talk about a New
Public Service. Though we acknowledge that differences, even substantial
differences, exist in these various viewpoints, we would suggest there are
also similarities that distinguish the cluster of ideas we call the New Public
Service from those associated with the New Public Management and the Old
Public Administration. Moreover, there are a number of practical lessons that
the New Public Service suggests for those in public administration. These
lessons are not mutually exclusive, rather they are mutually reinforcing.
We will outline these ideas here, then discuss each one in more detail in the
seven chapters that follow. Among these ideas, we find the following the
most compelling:
1. Serve Citizens, Not Customers: The public interest is the result of a
dialogue about shared values rather than the aggregation of individual
self-interests. Therefore, public servants do not merely respond to the
demands of “customers,” but rather focus on building relationships of
trust and collaboration with and among citizens (Chapter 3).
2. Seek the Public Interest: Public administrators must contribute to
building a collective, shared notion of the public interest. The goal is
not to find quick solutions driven by individual choices. Rather, it is
the creation of shared interests and shared responsibility (Chapter 4).
3. Value Citizenship over Entrepreneurship: The public interest is better
advanced by public servants and citizens committed to making meaningful
contributions to society than by entrepreneurial managers acting
as if public money were their own (Chapter 5).
4. Think Strategically, Act Democratically: Policies and programs meeting
public needs can be most effectively and responsibly achieved through
collective efforts and collaborative processes (Chapter 6).
5. Recognize that Accountability Isn’t Simple: Public servants should be
attentive to more than the market; they should also attend to statutory
and constitutional law, community values, political norms, professional
standards, and citizen interests (Chapter 7).
6. Serve Rather than Steer: It is increasingly important for public servants
to use shared, value-based leadership in helping citizens articulate and
meet their shared interests rather than attempting to control or steer
society in new directions (Chapter 8).
7. Value People, Not Just Productivity: Public organizations and the networks
in which they participate are more likely to be successful in the
long run if they are operated through processes of collaboration and
shared leadership based on respect for all people (Chapter 9).

Chapter 3
Serve Citizens, Not Customers
Serve citizens, not customers. The public interest is the result of a
dialogue about shared values rather than the aggregation of individual
self-interests. Therefore, public servants do not merely respond to the
demands of “customers,” but rather focus on building relationships of trust
and collaboration with and among citizens.
The New Public Service begins, of course, with the concept of public service.
But the idea of public service is intertwined with the responsibilities
of democratic citizenship. In the words of Benjamin Barber, “Service to
the nation is . . . the duty of free men and women whose freedom is wholly
dependent on and can survive only through the assumption of political
responsibilities. In this tradition service is something we owe ourselves or
that part of ourselves that is embedded in the civic community” (Barber
1998, 195). Public service derives, therefore, from the civic virtues of duty
and responsibility.
Respect for the idea of public service has varied over time. In some
periods, the commitment of citizens to public service has been far stronger
than in others. Similarly, the relationship between the public servant and the
public has been characterized in different ways over time. In this chapter,
we will first review several important aspects of democratic citizenship,
then consider these varying views of public service in relation to citizenship.
We will then examine the particular interpretation of public service in
the Old Public Administration, the New Public Management, and the New
Public Service.
Civic Virtue and Democratic Citizenship
We noted earlier a distinction between a legal definition of citizenship
and what we might call an ethical definition of citizenship—citizenship as
concerned with the nature of one’s membership in a political community,
including such issues as the rights and responsibilities of citizens. We will
focus here on ethical interpretations of citizenship, however, even here there
are questions about (1) how a “theory” of citizenship might be formulated,
(2) how modern society has shaped and—we would say—restricted the role
of the citizen, and (3) whether there is a rationale and hope for building more
active citizen involvement in the governance process. In this section, we will
briefly examine each of these topics.
Theories of Citizenship
Efforts to understand the proper roles and responsibilities of the citizen trace
back to ancient Greek philosophy. Political theorist J.G.A. Pocock, in fact,
suggests that the history of the concept of citizenship in Western political
thought can be seen as an “unfinished dialogue” between the ideal and the
real, between persons and things (Pocock 1995, 42). According to Pocock,
the classical account of citizenship, that which best expresses the “ideal,”
was first developed in Aristotle’s Politics. In this view, the citizen engages
in the work of the polis because it is in that work that the individual attains
his or her (for Aristotle, it was only “his”) fullest humanity. Because humans
are active, social, and moral beings, concerned with the purpose of life, they
seek to attain higher ends and must, in doing so, engage in self-determination.
“Therefore, the citizen rules and is ruled; citizens join each other in making
decisions where each decider respects the authority of the others, and all join
in obeying the decisions . . . they have made” (Pocock 1995, 31). Citizens are
more concerned with the “ends” to be attained in social life; they have less
concern for the “means” of industry or production. Citizenship is not seen
as an instrumental activity (a means to an end). To be an active citizen is an
end in itself. It is valued for the freedom that is obtained by participating in
the work of the polity.
There is an alternative view, one that Pocock traces to the Roman jurist
Gaius, who moved from a concept of the citizen as a political being
to the citizen as a legal being, existing in a world of persons, actions,
and things. The concept of “things” is the one that particularly makes
a difference. Aristotle’s citizens were, of course, concerned with things
(such as land or trade), but they did not act through the medium of things.
Quite to the contrary, “Aristotle’s citizens were persons acting on one
another, so that their active life was a life immediately and heroically
moral” (Pocock 1995, 34).
For Gaius, people acted primarily on things, and indeed most of their
actions were focused on taking or maintaining possession of things. The
resulting disputes over things were what led most directly to the need for
regulation. The individual as a citizen was first concerned with the possession
of things and second with legal actions taken with respect to things—
authorization, conveyance, litigation, and so on. In this view, the world of
things became the reality, the medium through which human beings lived their
lives and, indeed, defined their lives. Citizenship then became a legal status,
one associated perhaps with certain “rights,” especially property rights, but
not a moral or political one. “The Greek citizen . . . stepped out of a world
of things into a world of purely personal interactions, a world of deeds and
words, speech and war. The Roman citizen, subject to both law and prince,
was constantly reminded by the Gaian formula that he lived in the world of
things, as well as the world of persons and actions” (Pocock 1995, 40).
Much later, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, following in the Aristotelian tradition,
basically defined the citizen as one who acts with the good of the community
in mind. Citizenship is a way of life that involves a commitment to the community
and to its members, a significant level of involvement in public affairs,
and an occasional willingness to put one’s own interest below those of the
broader society, what Alexis de Tocqueville later called “self-interest properly
understood” (Tocqueville 1969, 526–27). Others, such as John Stuart Mill,
also envisioned citizen participation as a vital and necessary component of
democratic government. As Mill stated, “good government . . . depends . . .
(on) the qualities of the human beings composing the society over which the
government is exercised” (Mill 1862, II, 2).
The legal tradition, which is often skeptical of public participation, was
maintained in the writing of the U.S. Constitution. Consistently with the
tradition of legalism and jurisprudence, the founding fathers created a government
with careful attention to the balance, or one might say the dilution
of power, in order to protect the public from governmental tyranny. At the
same time, however, the framers were extremely suspicious of rule by the
masses. For this reason, suffrage was severely limited. The concept of “citizen”
pertained only to white male landowners, who were believed to have
enough at stake, and presumably enough knowledge, to participate through
voting and public service.
James Madison was particularly concerned about the notion of citizen
action. He believed that among the “heaviest misfortunes” of the new republic
was the “unsteadiness and injustice [with] which a factious spirit has
tainted our public administration” (Madison 1787/1987, #10, 1). To Madi48
son, factions were “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority
or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common
impulse of passion, or of interest adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to
the permanent and aggregate interests of the community” (#10, 1). Thomas
Jefferson, on the other hand, strongly defended the involvement of citizen in
the conduct of government, writing in the Declaration of Independence that
“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from
the Consent of the Governed” (Declaration of Independence 1776/1970).
And so the debate continued.
While the United States constitutional system does not fully support the
democratic ideal, having a more legalistic focus designed in part to protect
government from excessive intrusions on the part of citizens, there has been a
strong informal commitment to the democratic ideal. As an abstract value, the
concept of citizen participation is unquestionably accepted as an unmitigated
good. Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address echoed the sentiment in
the well-known phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the
people.” Thus, there is a strong and explicit value placed on the role of the
citizen in American democratic ideology.
Moreover, Americans have a strong tradition of acting in a way consistent
with the ideal of democratic citizenship. Summarizing the history of civic
involvement in this country, Terry Cooper writes, “From the covenantal
tradition of the early Puritan communal with their forms of participatory
self-governance; the New England town meetings; the experience of forming
voluntary associations, which captured the attention of Tocqueville; Antifederalist
thought; and the cooperative establishment of frontier settlements,
there has emerged a set of values, customs, beliefs, principles, and theories
which provide the substance for ethical citizenship” (1991, 10). This strong
tradition of ethical citizenship stands in contrast to the more formal legal
approaches, and provides the basis for an active and involved citizenry in
this country.
Earlier we noted a difference between a perspective on governance in
which citizens look beyond their self-interest to the larger public interest,
and one in which government exists to ensure that citizens can make choices
consistent with their self-interest by guaranteeing certain procedures and
individual rights. What has now become clear is that theories of citizenship
diverge in a strikingly similar way. The democratic ideal of persons
actively engaged in the work of the community or nation, benefiting both
the society and themselves as they become more complete human beings
through their involvement in the political system, is contrasted with the
world of jurisprudence and legal rights, both shaped to protect our interest
in things, our possessions. In this chapter, we argue that the prevailing view
in both politics and administration is associated with self-interest, but that
a resurgence of democratic spirit might have great benefits for society and
for its members.
The Role of the Citizen
Unfortunately, in recent times, the ideals of citizenship have been largely
overwhelmed by increased power, professionalism, and complexity. Robert
Pranger, for example, argues that much of what is termed “politics” today
is actually “power politics,” largely concerned with the activities of leaders,
officials, and other power holders in society. Pranger contrasts this orientation
to an alternative, the politics of citizenship or the “politics of participation.”
In the politics of participation, ordinary citizens engage in dialogue
and discourse concerning the directions of society and act based on moral
principles such as those associated with the term “civic virtue.” A similar
distinction has been made between high and low views of citizenship. High
definitions of citizenship, associated with such writers as Aristotle, Rousseau,
and Mill, assume a wide distribution of power and authority and view citizens
as sharing equally in the exercise of authority. Low citizenship, associated
with such names as Thomas Hobbes or the more contemporary democratic
elitists, assumes a hierarchical distribution of authority, with the greatest
power wielded by those “at the top” and little power exercised by others
(Cooper 1991, 5). In either case, it appears that, in modern American society,
the “politics of power” or “low citizenship” has come to dominate—perhaps
not to the exclusion of the “politics of participation” or “high citizenship,”
but certainly to its disadvantage.
Carole Pateman argues that “low” theories of citizenship have become
self-fulfilling. She is disturbed by the fact that much contemporary theory
is not “centered on the participation of ‘the people,’ or . . . the development
of politically relevant and necessary qualities in the ordinary individual.”
Further, she states that “in the contemporary theory of democracy it is the
participation of the minority elite that is crucial and the non-participation of
the apathetic ordinary man lacking in the feeling of political efficacy that is
regarded as the main bulwark against instability” (Pateman 1970, 104). She
suggests that the present institutional setting is hostile to citizen participation,
and creates feelings of apathy and low political efficacy. Therefore, the
development of a “democratic character” among the citizenry, which she
suggests is necessary for participation, is thwarted in the current system.
For whatever reason, as we noted earlier, political participation today is
generally down, at least when measured in terms of formal involvement, such
as voting or attending meetings. At the same time, trust in government has
dropped precipitously and people seem quite cynical about the means and motives
of politicians. The gap between leaders and citizens seems substantially
greater than before. In fact, Barber points out the irony that while democracy
needs both strong leadership and vigorous citizenship, strengthened leadership,
especially when it is associated with the manifest exercise of power,
may in fact undermine a more active, participatory citizenship (1998).
Active citizenship may also be discouraged by the professionalization of
government and its increasing dependence on “experts.” As expert advice is
increasingly heralded as essential to solving the problems faced by modern
government, the opinions of ordinary citizens are largely devalued. Under
these circumstances, officials and administrators may be inclined to disregard
views they dismiss as lacking clarity and sophistication. Indeed, having to
listen to such views becomes an “annoyance” interfering with the resolution
of the technical problems that experts are trained to solve. Moreover,
ordinary citizens may themselves become overwhelmed by the intricacies
of problems and feel they have nothing to contribute—even though their
“common sense” may be extremely valuable.
Finally, the sheer complexity of today’s society makes civic involvement
difficult. The pressures of making a living, raising children, and meeting all
the other demands of modern life mean that many people simply feel they
don’t have enough energy for politics. Involvement in the public sphere takes
time, and many people simply don’t feel they can devote the time necessary
to make democracy work.
Building Citizen Involvement
There are a number of reasons we might hope for high levels of public participation
in a democratic society. The first reason is our belief that through
active participation we can most likely achieve the best political outcomes,
outcomes that reflect the broad judgments of the people as a whole or the
considered judgments of specific groups and are consistent with the norms of
democracy. Second, through participation, we might fulfill what Thompson
calls the democratic objective, “attaining rules and decisions which satisfy the
interests of the greatest number of citizens” (Thompson 1970, 184). Through
widespread public participation in civic affairs, citizens can help assure that
the individual and collective interests are being heard and responded to by
governmental officials. Moreover, they can prevent rulers from violating the
interests of citizens. Third, democratic participation enhances the legitimacy
of government. People who are involved in decision making are more likely
to support those decisions and the institutions involved in making and carrying
out those decisions.
These ideas come together in what Emmett S. Redford (1969) calls
“democratic morality,” an expression of the democratic ideal resting on
three premises. First, democratic morality assumes that the individual is the
basic measure of human value. Our social and political system can only be
considered successful to the extent that it promotes the realization of the
fullest potential of the individual. Second, democratic morality means that
all persons have full claim to the attention of the system. While some people,
for example, may have more wealth than others, that shouldn’t give them
undue advantage in political affairs. Third, democratic morality assumes
that individual claims can best be promoted through the involvement of all
persons in the decision-making process and that participation is not only
an instrumental value, but is essential to the development of democratic
citizenship. The ideal of universal participation may take various forms;
however, Redford indicates some basics: “Among these are (1) access to
information, based on education, open government, free communication,
and open discussion; (2) access, direct or indirect, to forums of decision;
(3) ability to open any issue to public discussion; (4) ability to assert one’s
claims without fear of coercive retaliation; and (5) consideration of all claims
asserted” (1969, 8).
Through such processes, advocates of democracy believe the best government
will be obtained and maintained. But what about the other side of
the equation? From the standpoint of the citizen, what is there to be gained
by further involvement in the body politic? Generally speaking, political
theorists have come up with three answers, the ethical, the integrative, and
the educative. We have already explored the ethical argument—that active
involvement in political life is a part of realizing one’s fullest potential. To
Barber, for example, the aim of participation is to create communities of
active, interested citizens “who are united less by homogeneous interests
than by civic education and who are made capable of common purpose and
mutual action by virtue of their civic attitudes and participatory institutions”
(1984, 117). He sees citizens being transformed from having only private,
selfish interests to having a regard for the public good. Similarly, Pranger
writes that “The conduct of citizens in the culture of power is basically
unvirtuous in that it has little to do with the citizen’s main duty as an agent
responsible for common participation based on independent points of view,
eventually fostering that mutual responsibility which alone enriches the
commonwealth’s life” (1968, 53).
Active participation and the occasional sacrifice of one’s own interest
that is often involved in a democracy builds “character.” Through discipline
and self-sacrifice, citizens may become more virtuous. Involvement in the
work of the polity teaches responsibility and tolerance. Active citizenship
may not lead to spectacular deeds, but, according to Tocqueville, “every
day it prompts some small ones; by itself it cannot make a man virtuous,
but its discipline shapes a lot of orderly, temperate, moderate, careful, and
self-controlled citizens. If it does not lead the will directly to virtue, it establishes
habits which unconsciously turn it that way” (1969, 526–27). To
put it simply, the person who remains actively involved in civic life will
become a better person.
The integrative argument in support of more active citizenship suggests
that people play many roles in society—employer, employee, teacher, student,
parent, consumer, union representative, churchgoer—but that the citizenship
role is one of very few roles that brings these different aspects of our lives
together. (Religion might be another.) The political theorist Sheldon Wolin
writes, “Citizenship provides what other roles cannot, namely an integrative
experience which brings together the multiple role activities of the
contemporary person and demands that the separate roles be surveyed from
a more general point of view” (1960, 434). My role as a parent may sometimes
conflict with my role as an employee. Where this is the case, I need
a broader way of bringing together the various roles in a synoptic fashion.
The citizenship role can provide such integration.
This argument is especially interesting as we consider the question of
civil society, because it is those smaller groups, associations, and day-today
patterns of interactions that provide the “social glue” that holds society
together. Michael Walzer points out that citizenship is one of many roles
that members play, but the state itself is unlike all the other associations. “It
both frames civil society and occupies space within it. It fixes the boundary
conditions and the basic rules of all associational activity (including political
activity). It compels association members to think about a common good,
beyond their own conceptions of the good life” (1995, 169). Through the
citizenship role, we may integrate the interests and experiences that we have
in other, less comprehensive realms. Moreover, acting as a citizen, exercising
the civic virtues brings us into a closer relationship with others. It increases
the feeling that people belong to a community. So, “the activity of citizenship
performs an integrative function in two respects, first, it enables the
individual to integrate the various roles he or she plays; second, it integrates
individuals into the community” (Dagger 1997, 101).
The educative argument in support of active and public-spirited participation
is especially well developed in Carole Pateman’s classic discussion of
Rousseau’s views on the matter. According to Rousseau, as the individual
engages in the political process, he or she learns the importance of taking
into account the views of others in order to gain their cooperation. “As
a result of participating in decision making the individual is educated to
distinguish between his own impulses and desires, he learns to be a public
as well as a private citizen” (Pateman 1970, 25). As individuals engage in
participation, they begin to learn and develop the skills appropriate to the
process of participation, so that the process becomes self-sustaining. That
is, the more the individual participates, the better he or she is able to do so.
The classical or ideal theory of democratic citizenship, then, has an ambitious
agenda—“the education of an entire people to the point where their
intellectual, emotional, and moral capacities have reached their full potential
and they are joined, freely and actively in a genuine community” (Davis,
quoted in Pateman 1970, 21).
The educative argument is, of course, based on a faith in the “improvability”
of the ordinary citizen. If there are problems with the involvement of citizens,
if their participation doesn’t bring about political improvements as well as
heightened legitimacy, then the response is not to end participation, but to
further educate the citizenry. Thomas Jefferson was clear on this point: “I
know of no safe depository of the ultimate power of the society but the people
themselves, and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their
control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them,
but to inform their discretion” (Jefferson 1903, 278). If there are problems
encountered in a participatory society, the answer is not to limit participation
(the Madisonian response) but rather to further educate and to inform.
Public Service as an Extension of Citizenship
Clearly the idea of civic virtue, at least in the democratic ideal, incorporates
the notion of service to the public. For this reason, discussion of democratic
theory must attend to the roles and responsibilities or the duties and
obligations of citizenship. A part of that discussion of particular relevance
to our argument here is related to the idea of service to the community or
nation. The virtuous citizen obviously is a citizen engaged in the work of
the community, but the virtuous citizen also has a duty or responsibility to
serve others. The idea of democratic citizenship has, since the earliest times,
implied a certain duty or obligation on the part of the citizen to contribute to
the betterment of the community. Many will recognize the Athenian Oath,
from ancient Greece:
We will never bring disgrace on this our City by any act of dishonesty or
We will fight for the ideals and Sacred Things of the City both alone and
with many.
We will revere and obey the City’s laws, and will do our best to incite a
like reverence and respect in those above us who are prone to annul them
or set them at naught.
We will strive increasingly to quicken the public’s sense of civic duty.
Thus in all these ways we will transmit this City, not only not less, but
greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us. (Quoted in Bennett
1993, 217)
Similarly, Thomas Jefferson once wrote to a friend, scolding him for not
being more active in national affairs, saying, “There is a debt of service due
from every man to his country, proportioned to the bounties which nature
and fortune have measured him” (Jefferson, quoted in Staats 1988, 605). The
democratic ideal clearly posits an active and engaged citizen, one propelled
at least in part by a commitment to serve others and to serve the community.
As one contemporary political theorist puts it, “Civic virtue, the cultural
disposition apposite to citizenship was thus two-fold, a willingness to step
forward and assume the burdens of public office; and second, a willingness
to subordinate private interests to the requirement of public obedience. What
Aristotle called the ‘right temper’ of a citizen was thus a disposition to put
public good ahead of private interest” (Ignatieff 1995, 56).
For some, the impulse to engage in public processes extends beyond
voting, going to community meetings or public hearings, writing letters or
e-mails, or engaging in focus groups and visioning projects. It leads to a
full-time commitment to engage in what we typically call “public service.”
The call to public service that many experience is based on the responsibility
of all citizens to serve, but it goes far beyond this responsibility, to become
a full-time occupation, even a preoccupation. The public servant may be
someone who runs for and serves in elective public office, perhaps for a
short time, perhaps throughout a career; but he or she may also be someone
who works in an agency of government—in social services, public health,
environmental protection, law enforcement, or any one of myriad other public
and governmental agencies. Today the public servant may even be someone
who works outside government, perhaps in a nonprofit organization or in a
public advocacy role. Wherever public servants are found, they are likely
to be motivated by the desire to make a difference, to improve the lives of
others, to do something meaningful with their own lives, to do something
What we think of as public service, therefore, is an extension of the
virtues expected of all citizens in a democracy, a point most eloquently and
thoroughly captured by Terry Cooper in his book An Ethic of Citizenship
for Public Administration (1991). Cooper argues for the citizenship role as
a basis for understanding the role of public servant and, more explicitly, the
role of public administrator. He begins by noting that, historically, the connection
between citizenship and administration was extremely close. For
example, the two oldest schools of public administration, Syracuse and the
University of Southern California, began as schools of citizenship. While the
field of public administration has drifted away from its roots in this regard,
Cooper argues that public servants and public administrators still derive their
standing and legitimacy from their role as professional citizens. In this view,
the public administrator is not merely a technician, a problem solver, or an
employee of government. Rather, the public servant or public administrator
is best understood as someone who extends the responsibilities of citizenship
into his or her life’s work. Public administrators are, in the words of Michael
Walzer, “citizens in lieu of the rest of us; the common good is, so to speak,
their specialty” (quoted in Cooper 1991, 139).
If administrators derive their ethical identity from a base in democratic
citizenship, then they assume special roles and responsibilities, including
specific understandings of issues such as responsiveness and accountability,
which are inherent in the idea of democratic morality. Cooper writes,
The ethical identity of the public administrator then, should be that of the
citizen who is employed as one of us to work for us; a kind of professional
citizen ordained to do the work which we in a complex large-scale political
community are unable to undertake ourselves. Administrators are to be
those “especially responsible” citizens who are fiduciaries for the citizenry
as a whole. (Cooper 1991, 139)
As such, administrators will naturally be held to a set of ethical standards
appropriate to the conduct of public affairs. Indeed, a substantial literature
on the ethics of public service has developed. Without going into the details
of that material, we should mention several important components of ethical
concern in the public service. Some years ago, Paul Appleby urged that
administrators attain a “special attitude of public responsibility” and that, in
addition to learning the skills of management, they would be imbued with
the “democratic spirit” (1945, 4).
Stephen K. Bailey interpreted Appleby’s remarks to mean that administrators
needed an understanding of the moral ambiguity of public
policies, a recognition of the moral priorities and paradoxes of the public
service, and the moral qualities of “(1) optimism, (2) courage, and (3)
fairness tempered by charity” (1966, 24). Many more recent writings
have followed in this tradition of elaborating the administrator’s sense of
democratic responsibility. For example, Patrick Dobel (1990) suggests
that the administrator’s integrity involves several different justifications
for the exercise of discretion. These include regime accountability, personal
responsibility, and prudence, justifications that in practice must be
balanced and integrated:
First, be truthfully accountable to relevant authorities and publics. Second,
address the public values of the regime. Third, respect and build
institutions and procedures to achieve goals. Fourth, ensure fair and
adequate participation of relevant stakeholders. Fifth, seek competent
performance in the execution of policy and program. Sixth, work for
efficiency in the operation of government. This builds up the legitimacy
of the regime, is true to the basic purposes and genealogy of public
funds, and buttresses concerns with conscientiousness and competence.
Seventh, connect policy and program with the self-interest of the public
and participants in such a way that the basic purposes are not subverted.
(Dobel 1990, 363)
If, as Cooper argues, the administrative role derives from the role of the
citizen, then surely a part of the administrator’s responsibility is to assist
citizens in fulfilling their own civic duty to be fully engaged and involved
in the work of the polity. While administrators oriented toward efficiency
and productivity may find the involvement of citizens awkward and time
consuming, encouraging that involvement is nonetheless an essential element
of the public servant’s role. Dennis Thompson points out that the demand
that citizens take a significant role in the political process means that leaders,
and here we would include all public servants, such as elected public
administrators, should “not only share the values and beliefs of the ordinary
citizen, not only that they remain sensitive to his needs, but also that leaders
strive to activate the inactive citizen” (1970, 26).
We argue here that public servants have an ethical obligation to extend the
boundaries of public participation in the political process in whatever way
they can. Often, such an effort will be uncomfortable for administrators. In
many cases, “unwarranted” delays and confusion may result. Frequently,
the time involved in engaging citizens will be maddening for administrators;
but this will be the case only if administrators see their role as a primarily
technical one focused on efficient problem solving. If they see their role as
engaging citizens in the work of democracy, then such efforts will hardly
be confounding. As difficult as they may be, these efforts will be a source
of exhilaration and joy.
The Old Public Administration and Client Service
Traditional public administration or the Old Public Administration was
largely concerned with either the direct delivery of services or the regulation
of individual and corporate behavior. Those on the “receiving” end
were generally referred to as “clients.” The word “client,” of course, means
“a party for which professional services are rendered” (American Heritage
Dictionary 2000). What is interesting is that the word “client” is derived
from the Latin cliens, which means “dependent” or “follower.” In many
cases, public agencies operating under the Old Public Administration dealt
with their clients in just such a manner. Clients were seen as in need of help,
and those in government made honest efforts to provide the help that was
needed through the administration of public programs. Inevitably those in
the agency came to be seen as being “in control” of those dependent on the
agency. For many clients, the agency’s view appeared to be quite patronizing
and even dismissive. The stereotype of the thoughtless, uncaring bureaucrat
is surely overdone but perhaps contains a modicum of truth.
The New Public Management and Customer Satisfaction
The New Public Management addresses the relationship between government
and citizens, not just a practical concern, but from a distinct theoretical
position. Earlier in this chapter we examined in detail the ideal concept of
citizenship as being active, involved, and public spirited. We also pointed
out the alternative legal definition of citizenship—a view we find to be based
not only on legalism but also on self-interest. This theoretical viewpoint so
clearly underlies the way in which the New Public Management views the
relationship between those in government and those served or regulated by
government that is worthwhile to elaborate the theoretical notion of citizen
as consumer. This view is largely derived from the so-called economic theory
of democracy, a theory that explains political behavior in terms of economic
competition. Political parties, for example, are seen as competing for votes
just as corporations are seen as competing for profits. Citizens, in turn, are
seen as consumers for whose votes the parties compete. These citizen/consumers
make decisions based on their efforts to maximize their own utilities,
casting their votes for one or the other party, or simply turning away
from politics and seeking great utilities by spending their time and energy
elsewhere (Dagger 1997, 105).
This view of citizens as consumers is certainly consistent with the selfinterested
interpretation of political life we examined earlier: the view that
government ultimately reflects the accumulated self-interests of largely
disconnected and utility-maximizing individuals. This interpretation is also
consistent with the legal definition of citizenship, since the citizen/consumer
enjoys certain rights and liberties protected by the state’s system of jurisprudence.
Finally, this view is consistent with an economic interpretation of
political life. Proponents of this view “conceive of citizenship in economic
terms, so that citizens are transformed into autonomous consumers, looking
for the party or position that most persuasively promises to strengthen their
market position. They need the state, but have no moral relation to it, and they
control its officials only as consumers control the producers of commodities,
by buying or not buying what they make” (Walzer 1995, 160).
The New Public Management brings this idea of consumerism directly
into the debate about the appropriate relationship between public administrators
and citizens by conceiving of the recipients of government services (or
delivered by contracted agencies) as consumers or “customers.” Like other
elements of the New Public Management, the customer-service orientation
is clearly related to the experience of business, in this case the customerservice
movement of the last twenty-five years. In such books as In Search of
Excellence (Peters and Waterman 1982) and Service America (Albretch and
Zemke 1985), management consultants made the argument that if businesses
are fully attentive to customers, then everything else, including profits, will
fall into place. The customer is conceived as constantly calculating satisfaction
utilities: “We can think of the customer as carrying around a kind of
‘report card’ in his or her head, which is the basis of a grading system that
leads the customers to decided whether to partake of the service again or
go elsewhere” (Albretch and Zemke 1985, 32). The customer is clearly a
construct derived from the classic model of economic man.
Osborne and Gaebler argue that customer-driven government is superior
to bureaucratic government, having the advantages of greater accountability,
greater innovation, the possibility of generating more service choices, and
less waste (1992, 180–85). Similarly, Barzelay contends that thinking in
terms of customer service helps public managers articulate their concerns
about performance and come up with innovative solutions to problems that
arise (Barzelay 1992, 6–7). For those agencies that interact directly with the
public, the recipient of the service is the “customer.” For some staff agencies
(such as budgeting or purchasing), there is rather an internal customer, the
agencies whose work they support.
The language of customer service has become central to the New Public
Management. The National Performance Review, for example, had a goal
of “providing customer services equal to the best in business” (Gore 1993,
44). Noting that government’s customers often face long lines, busy signals,
inadequate information, and indifferent employees, the report urged
“entrepreneurial” federal agencies to assess the needs of customers, to set
standards for the delivery of services, and to take those steps necessary to
meet those standards. Similar language and approaches were taken at the
state and local level, as governments and their agencies sought to “reinvent”
themselves as customer-driven operations. In other countries, comparable
efforts were undertaken, actually in many cases predating the United States’
efforts in this regard. The British “Citizen’s Charter” movement set minimum
standards of service, backed by ministerial authority, and in some cases even
provided redress when those standards were not met. Similar efforts were
undertaken in other countries, including Australia, New Zealand, France,
and Belgium.
While improving the quality of governmental services is an idea no one
would dispute, using the rhetoric and approach of “customer service” has
both practical and theoretical difficulties. In the first place, the notion of
choice is essential to the economic concept of the customer. Generally, in
government, there are few if any alternatives. There is only one fire department,
for example (and the fire department cannot choose to go into another
line of work). Moreover, many services provided by government are services
the specific recipient may not want—receiving a speeding ticket, being held
in jail, and so on. Even identifying the customers of government is problematic.
Who are a local health department’s customers? People who visit a
clinic? Citizens who might be concerned about a particular health hazard?
Doctors and nurses? Local hospitals? The general public? All of the above?
Even listing all the potential customers points out another dilemma: All the
customers of government seem to have different interests. For example,
often there is a conflict between the interests of the immediate recipient of
government services and the taxpayers who must pay the bill. And, of course,
some government services—foreign policy or environmental protection, for
example—do not connect with individual customers; once they are provided,
they are provided for all, whether you want them or not.
Perhaps the most important objection to the customer orientation has to
do with accountability. In government, citizens are not only customers; they
are “owners” (Schachter 1997). As George Fredrickson puts it, “Customers
choose between products presented in the market; citizens decide what is
so important that the government will do it at public expense” (1992, 13).
Further, the interests of customers and owners do not always coincide—in
business or government. While businesses may benefit in the long term
from satisfying the immediate customer, government may not. A state motor
vehicle division made important efforts to improve customer satisfaction
—brightening their waiting areas, cutting down on waiting time, even making
the pictures better. But a statewide commission questioned whether
these changes were made at the cost of safety on the highway. Similarly, Tom
Peters supposedly tells a story of getting a building permit. “I don’t want
some bureaucrat at City Hall giving me a hard time. I want proper, quick,
businesslike treatment. But what if my neighbor wants a permit to enlarge his
house? Who’s City Hall’s customer then?” (quoted in Mintzberg 1996, 77).
Government must be accountable to the larger public interest—not merely
the self-interests of individual customers or consumers. In any case, the issue
of accountability is critical. “The bottom line for democratic government is
accountability—not profits or citizen satisfaction—and customer service does
not provide a good proxy measure for accountability” (Kettl 2000a, 43).
The New Public Service and Quality Service for Citizens
The New Public Service recognizes that those who interact with government
are not simply customers but rather citizens. Henry Mintzberg, the Canadian
management theorist, has pointed out that there are actually several types
of relationships that we have with government. “I am not a mere customer
of government, thank you. I expect something more than arm’s length trading
and something less than the encouragement to consume” (1996, 77).
Someone engaged in a direct transaction with government—buying a lottery
ticket—might indeed be considered a customer. However, someone receiving
a professional service from government—education, for example—might
more appropriately be called a client. Of course, we are also subjects of
government—required to pay taxes, respect regulations, and obey the laws.
Most important, we are citizens, and a large part of the services of government
provides would seem to fall under this category, “social infrastructure
(such as museums), physical (such as roads and ports), economic (such as
monetary policy), mediative (such as civil courts), offshore (such as embassies),
and the government’s own support infrastructure (such as election
machinery)” (77).
There is certainly no question but that government agencies should strive
to offer the highest quality service possible, within the constraints of law and
accountability—and, indeed, many agencies are doing so. One of the most
sophisticated efforts to improve service quality begins with a recognition
of the differences between customers and citizens (Schmidt with Strickland
1998). Citizens are described as bearers of rights and duties within the context
of a wider community. Customers are different in that they do not share
common purposes but rather seek to optimize their own individual benefits.
The distinction then is made between citizens and clients, the latter either
internal or external: “The following example may serve to illustrate these
definitions. A citizen may not collect employment insurance and yet has an
interest in how the system functions; the actual recipient of an employment
insurance payment would be an external client. A regional employment
insurance office that depends on a central agency to distribute the employment
insurance payments to their office would be an internal client” (3). It
is important to recognize that public servants rarely deal with a single client
or citizen. The front-line employee may be assisting someone sitting across
the table, but he or she is simultaneously serving the public by ensuring
that the process meets legal requirements. The complexity of government’s
interactions with citizens and the public marks all efforts to improve service
quality in government.
Despite this complexity, there have been a variety of efforts to define
public sector service quality. One especially comprehensive list developed
for local government includes the following:
1. Convenience measures the degree to which government services are
easily accessible and available to citizens.
2. Security measures the degree to which services are provided in a way
that makes citizens feel safe and confident when using them.
3. Reliability assesses the degree to which government services are provided
correctly and on time.
4. Personal attention measures the degree to which employees provide
information to citizens and work with them to help meet their needs.
5. Problem-solving approach measures the degree to which employees
provide information to citizens and work with them to help meet their
6. Fairness measures the degree to which citizens believe that government
services are provided in a way that is equitable to all.
7. Fiscal responsibility measures the degree to which citizens believe local
government is providing services in a way that uses money responsibly.
8. Citizen influence measures the degree to which citizens feel they can
influence the quality of service they receive from the local government
(Carlson and Schwarz 1995, 29).
What is especially interesting about this list is not only that citizens expect
public services to meet such standards as timeliness and reliability, but that
they should and do expect that services be delivered fairly and with attention
to fiscal responsibility as well; citizens expect to have the opportunity to
influence the services they receive as well as the quality of those services.
This same point can be made more theoretically. According to Jenny Potter
(1988), the theory of consumerism suggests that there is an imbalance of
power between those who provide services and those who receive services.
The latter carry weight only as a result of their accumulated choices. To shift
greater power toward consumers, theorists have identified five key factors:
access, choice, information, redress, and representation. While these factors
were originally developed in relation to private goods and services in the
marketplace, they can be adapted to the public sector, providing guidance
on how the interests of citizens, both individually and collectively, might
be enhanced. Access—deciding who will have what—is not strictly a matter
of individual right; rather, it is a matter of political responsibility. However,
citizens should expect to be engaged in that decision. Choice also is not a
matter of right, but citizens should expect to be involved in shaping and
extending choices available to them. They should also expect to have full
information about goals and objectives, standards of service, their rights
to service, alternatives being debated, why decisions are made, and what
those decisions are. Citizens should also expect to have some means of communicating
their grievances and complaints, and to receive redress where
appropriate. Representation opens up wider questions of consultation and
ultimately participation by citizens in making decisions.
Potter concludes that the theory of consumerism can certainly point
citizens in the right direction with respect to improving service quality;
however, ultimately, as an economic concept, “the theory of consumerism
cannot address the political question of how power might be more extensively
shared between the governors and the governed, the administrators and the
administrated” (1988, 156). As already noted, the theory of consumerism
starts with an imbalance of power. The key question for government is how
far government is willing to go in redressing that imbalance of power between
providers and users or citizens.
In contrast to concentrating solely on the “charm school and better wallpaper”
(Pollitt 1988, 125) approach taken by many public agencies in their
efforts to improve customer service, the real issues that must be addressed
as the New Public Service evolves will be those that deal with information
and power. The customer orientation treats the provision of information as
providing better signposts or schedules. A more complete approach to the
provision of information would likely include having agencies publish performance
data so that citizens can make informed decisions about choices
that are available to them. It would also mean providing detailed information
about standards of service and the agency’s success in meeting those
standards. Finally, agencies should consult and involve their users in these
tasks and should provide effective remedies if things go wrong. Ultimately,
those in government must recognize that public service is not an economic
construct, but a political one. That means that issues of service improvement
need to be attentive not only to the demands of “customers” but also to the
distribution of power in society. Ultimately, in the New Public Service,
providing quality service is a first step in the direction of widening public
involvement and extending democratic citizenship.
Despite the obvious importance of constantly improving the quality of public
sector service delivery, the New Public Service suggests that government
should not first or exclusively respond to the selfish, short-term interests of
“customers.” The New Public Service suggests instead that people acting as
citizens must demonstrate their concern for the larger community, their commitment
to matters that go beyond short-term interests, and their willingness
to assume personal responsibility for what happens in their neighborhoods
and the community. After all, these are among the defining elements of effective
and responsible citizenship. In turn, government must be responsive
to the needs and interests of citizens. In any case, the New Public Service
seeks to encourage more and more people to fulfill their responsibilities as
citizens, and in turn, for public administrators to be especially sensitive to
their voices.

Chapter 4
Seek the Public Interest
Seek the public interest. Public administrators must contribute to building
a collective, shared notion of the public interest. The goal is not to find
quick solutions driven by individual choices. Rather, it is the creation of
shared interests and shared responsibility.
One of the core principles of the New Public Service is a reaffirmation of
the centrality of the public interest in government service. The New Public
Service demands that the process of establishing a “vision” for society is
not something merely to be left to elected political leaders or appointed
public administrators. Instead, the activity of establishing a vision or
direction, of defining shared values, is something in which widespread
public dialogue and deliberation are central (Bryson and Crosby 1992;
Luke 1998; Stone 1988). Even more important, the public interest isn’t
something that just “happens” as a result of the interaction between individual
citizen choices, organizational procedures, and electoral politics.
Rather, articulating and realizing the public interest is one of the primary
reasons government exists.
The New Public Service sees a vital role for government in the process
of bringing people together in settings that allow for unconstrained and
authentic discourse concerning the directions society should take. Based on
these deliberations, a broad-based vision for the community, the state, or the
nation can be established and can provide a guiding set of ideas (or ideals) for
the future. It is less important that this process result in a single set of goals
than it is to engage administrators, politicians, and citizens in a process of
thinking about a desired future for their community and their nation.
In addition to its facilitating role, government also has a moral obligation
to assure that any solutions that are generated through such processes are
fully consistent with norms of justice and fairness. Government will act to
facilitate the solutions to public problems, but it will also be responsible
for assuring that those solutions are consistent with the public interest—
both in substance and in process (Ingraham and Ban 1988; Ingraham and
Rosenbloom 1989). In other words, the role of government will become
one of assuring that the public interest predominates: that both the solutions
themselves and the process by which solutions to public problems are
developed are consistent with democratic norms and the values of justice,
fairness, and equity.
In the New Public Service, government plays an important and active
role in creating arenas in which citizens, through discourse, can articulate
shared values and develop a collective sense of the public interest. Rather
than simply responding to disparate voices by forming a compromise, public
administrators will engage citizens with one another so that they come to
understand each other’s interests and ultimately adopt a longer-range and
broader sense of community and societal interests. Moreover, doing so is
vitally important to the realization of democratic values in the governance
process. The issue is complex, involving not only the nature of citizen trust
and governmental responsiveness but the purposes and responsibilities of
government itself. At stake is the question of whether or not citizens trust
their government to act in the public interest. As Kenneth Ruscio states,
“Prescriptions for establishing trust—and indeed our understanding of why
it is even necessary—require staking out positions on human nature, the
meaning of public interest, and the reasons for engaging in political life”
(1996, 471).
This chapter will explore the concept of the public interest. We will begin
with a look at the various ways the public interest has been defined, noting
competing ideas about what purpose, if any, the concept serves in governance.
We will then review how the notion of public interest was understood at the
time the field of public administration was founded in the United States, and
trace some of the reasons for its decline as a central component of public
administration theory and practice. We will then ask how conceptions of
the public interest have changed over time and what are the controversies
and issues regarding its existence and meaning. We will also ask about the
importance of the public interest from an administrative perspective. We
will then discuss how the public interest has been conceived in the Old
Public Administration and the New Public Management, concluding with
some thoughts about how the search for the public interest shapes the New
Public Service.
What Is the Public Interest?
In the last one hundred years, the concept of the public interest has been
variously derided, applauded, dismissed, and revived—leaving little consensus
on what it means or if it is even a useful concept. Walter Lippman
defined the public interest as “what men would choose if they saw clearly,
thought rationally, and acted disinterestedly, and benevolently” (1955, 42).
But Glendon Schubert suggested that the concept of the public interest
“makes no operational sense. . . . Political scientists might better spend their
time nurturing concepts that offer greater promise of becoming useful tools
in the scientific study of political responsibility” (1962, 176). Likewise,
Frank Sorauf stated that the term is “too burdened with multiple meanings
for valuable use” (Sorauf 1957, 624). Howard Smith, on the other hand,
said that while the public interest is a myth, it is a useful myth (1960). Still
others have pointed out that, regardless of its ambiguity, “there has never
been a society which was not, in some way, and to some extent guided by
this ideal” (Bell and Kristol 1965, 5). Despite this disagreement, the concept
of the public interest has remained important in public discourse and
academic literature.
In one sense, attempting to define the “public interest” is a little like trying
to define “love.” It is clear that love means different things to different
people under varying circumstances. It can change over time in both form
and substance. It also changes us—how we think and behave. Although
seeing its effects is often possible, it is difficult to observe directly. It can
be simultaneously seen as both a state of being and an ongoing process. Its
quality and significance are bound up in both the process of seeking it and
in the realization that it must always be pursued. As a result, it defies quantification
and meaningful measurement and is, therefore, difficult to use in
certain kinds of analyses. Some conclude from this complexity, fluidity in
meaning, and difficulty in measurement that love isn’t a very useful concept.
Others may question whether it even exists. Still others might readily admit
that love may exist, but argue that it cannot and should not be the subject
of empirical study and social science because it cannot be appropriately
operationalized. Yet, most of us would agree that any explanation of the
human experience—be it personal, social scientific, philosophical—would
be sorely lacking without the use of the concept of love.
The public interest, like love, means different things to different people,
changes over time, motivates behavior, frames our thinking, defies measurement,
and involves both substance and process. Just as understanding
the human experience virtually requires a recognition of the role of love, it
is difficult if not impossible to understand the depth and breadth of public
service without a recognition of the role of the public interest. Accordingly,
the difficulties and ambiguities encountered in attempts to define and place
conceptual boundaries around the public interest are more than outweighed
by the richness it brings to our understanding of citizenship, governance,
and public service. We acknowledge that the public interest is ambiguous
and fluid at the same time that we advocate for its centrality to democratic
We should point out that exploring the idea of the public interest is not
just an interesting academic pursuit. The way we think about governance
and the public interest defines how we act. Depending on which view of the
public interest we take, our actions will be directed in different ways. Here
we will approach the task of defining the concept of the public interest by
examining four approaches to the idea. While these categories are not entirely
mutually exclusive, they give us a reasonable starting point for our discussion.
In part using Clarke Cochran’s (1974) schema for the different schools
of thought with regard to the public interest, we will classify models of the
public interest as being primarily either: (1) normative, (2) abolitionist, (3)
political process oriented, or (4) based on shared values.
Normative Models
Normative models are used by social scientists not to describe what is, but
rather what ought to be. In normative models of the public interest, the “public
interest becomes an ethical standard for evaluating specific public policies
and a goal which the political order should pursue” (Cochran 1974, 330).
In this view, the public interest is a moral and ethical standard for decision
making. For example, C.W. Cassinelli (1962) writes that the public interest is
a standard of goodness by which political acts can be judged. In other words,
actions that can be taken in the public interest deserve approval because they
meet this standard of goodness. Because Cassinelli defines the public interest
as an ethical standard, he dismisses the claim that the public interest is
useless as a “tool of analysis” or an “aid to scientific study” as irrelevant. He
argues instead that the public interest, as an ethical concept, has functions
different from those of analytic models. “Social scientists cannot ignore the
fundamental issue of the final political good: this is the principal lesson to
be learned from examining the concept of the public interest” (1962, 47).
To Cassinelli and other advocates of the normative model, the public
interest is the “highest ethical standard applicable to political affairs”
(1962, 46). In this view, when something is good for the public, that is
a higher level of good than when something is good for only part of the
public. Accordingly, the political system should seek a fair distribution
of advantages across a community. This does not mean that all people
are entitled to identical or equal benefits, but suggests that, on balance,
everyone be treated fairly.
An early public administrationist, E. Pendleton Herring, for example,
wrote about the public interest from a normative perspective. In his 1936
book, Public Administration and the Public Interest, Herring argued that laws
were, by necessity, at least somewhat vague and that the bureaucrat’s job
was to reconcile competing group pressures in order to interpret the statute
ethically. Administrators could best meet their ethical and legal obligation
to resolve these conflicts, he said, according to the ideal of the public interest.
He wrote, “Under democracy the public interest is based not upon the
welfare of one class but upon a compounding of many group interests. We
assume the possibility of achieving a balance of forces, social and economic”
(1936, vii). More succinctly, he stated, “The public interest is the standard
that guides the administrator in executing the law” (23).
Similarly, Emmette Redford also defined the public interest in a normative
manner: “[The public interest] may be defined as the best response to a situation
in terms of all the interests and of the concepts of value which are generally
accepted in our society” (1954, 1108). Likewise, Philip Monypenny’s
code of ethics for public administration included a section called “The Public
Interest,” which stated that the administrator “should follow the public interest
as he understands it rather than his personal convenience or any private aim
or goal” (1953, 441). This view of the public interest as a normative, ethical
standard has remained important in the field of public administration to the
present. In fact, the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA),
in its code of ethics for its members, states as the first principle, “Exercise
discretionary authority to promote the public interest” (2001).
Abolitionist Views of the Public Interest
In contrast to the normative theorists discussed above, those who subscribe
to the abolitionist view of the public interest argue that the concept of the
public interest is neither meaningful nor important. These scholars tend to
take one of two lines of reasoning, either (1) the public interest can’t be
measured or directly observed, so isn’t valid, or (2) the concept of the public
interest or collective will isn’t necessary because individual choices are the
best way to understand the policy process and set policy. For example, while
Glendon Schubert acknowledged that people talk about the public interest,
therefore making it a part of the study of political behavior, it remained an
ill-defined and scientifically irrelevant idea. He claimed that despite considerable
American writers in the field of political science have evolved neither a
unified nor a consistent theory to describe how the public interest is defined
in governmental decision-making; they have not constructed theoretical
models with the degree of precision and specificity necessary if such models
are to be used as description of, or as a guide to, the actual behavior of
real people. (Shubert 1960, 220)
In order to be useful, Schubert wrote, a theory of the public interest
would have to be able to describe the relationship between the public interest
and behavior in a way that can be empirically validated. He concluded
that, because theories regarding the public interest cannot do so, “it is
difficult to comprehend the justification for teaching students of political
science that subservience to the public interest is a relevant norm of official
responsibility” (1960, 220).
Political Process Theories
Cochran describes process theorists as those who “define the concept by
reference to the political processes through which policy is made” (1974,
331). In this view, the public interest is realized through a particular process
that allows interests to be aggregated, balanced, or reconciled. For example,
Howard Smith states clearly that “The Public Interest is most properly identified
with, not concrete politics as such, but rather a particular kind of a
process by means of which it is decided what should be done” (1960, 159).
In other words, advocates of this view suggest that it is less important what
the public interest is than how we arrive at it. Because these theorists are
concerned primarily with the process, many can be considered to be analyzing
the public interest as the logical extension of a longstanding and ongoing
debate among political scientists about the best way to understand the political
process per se. A key point of contention in this debate is whether political
parties or interest groups are considered to be the preferred mechanism for
the representation of interests in a democracy.
As evidenced by James Madison’s early references in the Federalist
Papers Number 10, factions have long been considered to be natural to the
American system of government (Madison, Hamilton, and Jay 1787/1987).
While Madison and others have debated the “misfortunes” and disadvantages
of politics based on interest group activity, those views were reflected more
recently in Robert Dahl’s A Preface to Democratic Theory (1956) and in his
Who Governs? (1961). Pluralist views of democracy are based on the idea
that interest groups, rather than individual citizens or the people as a whole,
are the best vehicle for representing and defending the interests of citizens
in the policy process. Pluralists argue that direct participation is impractical
and unworkable, and that by forming groups, like-minded individuals can
have a greater voice in policymaking than they can as individuals. Dahl suggested
that interest group pluralism was not only the best way to describe
American politics as it currently operated but also the best way to maximize
democratic principles.
The dominance of pluralism as the model for American democracy
strongly influenced those who defined the public interest from the standpoint
of process. Pluralists were certainly not without their critics, however, who
claimed that democracy and the public interest were better served by other
processes. E.E. Schattschneider, for example, was a vocal proponent of
majoritarian party politics as the best way to serve the public interest. He
argued that private, special, and local interests are enemies of the common
interest, but political parties can synthesize and transcend special interests.
Rejecting the idea that the compilation of the special interests would equal
the public interest, he stated, “The public interest is not the mere sum of
the special interests, and it is certainly not the sum of the organized special
interests” (1952, 23).
In either case, whether advocating for interest group politics or party politics,
these scholars largely ignore the role of citizens. The assumption is that
citizens will be adequately represented by either interest groups or parties,
and if we let one of these mediating institutions be the primary voice of the
people in the policy process, that will approximate the public interest.
Shared Values
Cochran called models of the public interest based on shared values “consensualist.”
Consensualists view the public interest as a vague, but valuable,
term that refers to policy debate to achieve a public value consensus. We
have broadened this category to include notions of the public interest based
on shared values that guide both the process for articulating these interests
and the substance of the public interest itself. This shared value model was
evidenced in the early writings of Paul Appleby, who stated:
The public interest is never merely the sum of all private interests nor the
sum remaining after canceling out their various pluses and minuses. It is
not wholly separate from private interests, and it derives from citizens with
many private interests; but it is something distinctive that arises within,
among, apart from, and above private interests, focusing in government
some of the most elevated aspiration and deepest devotion of which human
beings are capable. (Appleby 1950, 34–35)
This idea of the public interest as referring to the broad, shared interests
of society is consistent with how Deborah Stone (1988) defines the public
interest in what she calls the “polis,” or political community. The public
interest in Stone’s view is based on the active and conscious pursuit of collective
values. She defines the polis in part by contrasting it with the market
or aggregation of individual interests model (described above in the section
on abolitionist views). The market view, she says, is based on the idea that
public policy or the public interest is the net result of all individuals pursuing
their self-interest. Thus, the public interest in the market model is the
by-product of individual choices.
In the polis or collective model, on the other hand, building a society in
the collective interest is the aim, not the by-product. Stone suggests that:
Public policy is about communities trying to achieve something as communities.
This is true even though there is almost always conflict within
a community over what its goals should be and who its members are, and
even though every communal goal ultimately must be achieved through
the behavior of individuals. Unlike the market which starts with individuals
and assumes no goals, preferences, or intentions other than those held
by individuals, a model of the polis must assume both collective will and
collective effort. (Stone 1997, 18, emphasis added)
Rather than beginning with the market assumption that people are only
self-interested, she suggests that values such as sharing, caring, and maintaining
relationships are at least as strong in motivating behavior as competition,
separation, and promotion of self-interests. While history, loyalty, and
leadership are important factors in the polis, the market does not give us any
way to talk about such influences. Further, in the market model, “commons”
problems are considered to be the exception. “Commons” problems refer to
situations in which self-interest and the public interest are in conflict. The
example often used is of a pasture that is available to all cattle owners. Selfinterest
dictates that each person will seek to maximize his or her individual
gain by keeping as many cattle as possible on this common land. But because
each person sharing the common land makes this same decision, the commons
are depleted and of no use to anyone. Thus, by pursing their individual
interests, the shared interests of the cattle owners are lost.
As suggested above, commons problems are considered to be an unusual
occurrence in the market. In the polis, on the other hand, commons problems
are considered to be, well, common. Not only do they occur frequently the
most significant policy problems are commons problems. In the polis it is
assumed that policies will rarely affect only one or two individuals. The
purpose of political dialogue, then, is to encourage people to articulate shared
interests and to give primacy to the broader consequences of policy choices.
People are encouraged to do so based on influence, cooperation, loyalty, and
the connections that bond people together over time.
Further, the search for the public interest in the polis is ongoing. It is, as
the saying goes, more a journey than a destination. Problems in the polis are
not “solved” in the way that economic needs are met in the market model.
“It is not as though we can place an order for justice, and once the order is
filled, the job is done” (Stone 1997, 34). Moreover, there is never full agreement
on what the public interest is. Instead, the search for its meaning is
the raison d’être of public life, much as choice based on self-interest is the
cornerstone of the market. As Stone puts it, “The concept of public interest
is to the polis what self-interest is to the market. They are both abstractions
whose specific contents we do not need to know in order to use them to explain
and predict people’s behavior. We simply assume that people behave
as if they were trying to realize the public interest or maximize their selfinterest”
(1997, 21).
In the polis, the development of shared values and a collective sense of
the public interest is the primary aim. Stone suggests that the public interest
can be understood as those things desired by the “public-spirited side of
citizens” such as good schools and clean air, even if it interferes with their
right to have lower taxes or to burn trash. The public interest can also be
expressed as those “goals on which there is a consensus” and/or “things that
are good for a community as a community” such as the preservation of order,
maintenance of governing processes, and defense against outsiders. There is
never complete agreement on the public interest. In fact, Stone says, “Let it
be an empty box, but no matter; in the polis, people expend a lot of energy
trying to fill up that box” (1997, 21).
So, the public interest based on shared values suggests a process that
goes beyond the interplay of special interests to include shared democratic
and constitutional values. More importantly, shared interest theorists argue
that not only are people capable of more than self-interest, but also government
should work to nurture and develop that capacity. In part, that capacity
depends on trust. Citizen trust and confidence are built on the belief that
government is acting in response to the public interest and the shared values
of the community. Trust and acting in the public interest become mutually
reinforcing—as the government acts in the public interest, citizen trust is
enhanced. Conversely, when citizen trust is enhanced, citizens may experience
an increase in their capacity to see and act on shared interests.
Given this evolution in thought, what views of the public interest and
what assumptions for the role of public servants are associated with the Old
Public Administration, the New Public Management, and the New Public
Service? As should be clear from the preceding discussion, ideas and arguments
about the public interest have not unfolded in a neat, linear fashion.
However, we can identify certain dominant themes associated with the Old
Public Administration, the New Public Management, and the New Public
The Old Public Administration and the Public Interest
In the Old Public Administration, public service was thought to be a valueneutral
technical process and the authority of the administrator was the authority
of expertise. As Schubert put it, “The public interest is found in the
rationalization of the decisional process so that it will automatically result
in the carrying out of the Public Will. Human discretion is minimized or
eliminated by defining it out of the decisional situation; responsibility lies
in autonomic behavior” (1957, 347). This perspective was closely connected
with the emphasis on neutrality and efficiency that we saw earlier associated
with the progressive reform movement and the scientific management movement.
In one sense, then, the Old Public Administration didn’t have a theory
of the administrative responsibility to defend and protect the public interest.
The public interest was to be determined by elected officials. In the Old
Public Administration, it was implicit, however, that focusing on neutrality,
efficiency, and a strict separation between politics and administration was the
best way for public servants to serve the interests of the public. Thus, there
was a subordination of administrative activities and discretion to hierarchical
controls, legislation, and the interplay between special interests.
When writers like Woodrow Wilson and Frank Goodnow first attempted
to define the field of public administration at the turn of the century, the
concept of the public interest was important, but was considered to fall
solely within the province of politics. Wilson wrote: “[P]olicy will have no
taint of officialism about it. It will not be the creation of permanent officials,
but of statesmen whose responsibility to public opinion will be direct and
inevitable” (quoted in Shafritz and Hyde 1997, 22). Likewise, Goodnow
defined politics as the “expression of the will of the state” with administration
serving a subordinate role in executing that will (quoted in Shafritz and
Hyde 1997, 28).
The role of public administration in relationship to the public interest
remained a passive one into the mid-1930s when a new view was articulated
in the work of E. Pendleton Herring. In this era of the New Deal, Herring
found that administrators often had to interpret and define vague legislaTHE
tion. He wrote, “Upon the shoulders of the bureaucrat has been placed in
large part the burden of reconciling group differences and making effective
and workable the economic and social compromises arrived at through the
legislative process” (1936, 7). Herring did not reject the notion of neutral expertise;
he merely suggested that some level of discretion was needed to deal
with the demands of special interests. In exercising this discretion, Herring
argued that “the public interest is the standard that guides the administrator
in executing the law” (23). Again, the assumption was that the public interest
could be found in the interplay of special interests. Therefore, in this
model, the administrator facilitates the “reconciliation of group interests,”
using the public interest as a “verbal symbol designed to introduce unity,
order, and objectivity” (23). While accountability to the public interest was
emphasized, Herring’s model assumed that no direct citizen involvement
was necessary.
Further, the role of the administrator was clearly a passive one. For
example, Herring stated, “The task of government in a democracy, we assume,
is the adjustment of warring economic and social forces. The public
interest is the standard that supposedly determines the degree to which the
government lends its forces to one side or the other. Without this standard
for judgment between contenders, the scales would simply be weighted in
favor of victory for the strongest” (1936, 23). In effect, Herring was describing
the public administrator as a last resort “tie breaker” when the conflict
between interests leads to an unclear outcome or seems to exclude certain
important interests.
Others also suggested a relatively modest role for administrators, a role
subordinate to other participants in the process. From this perspective, the
public administrator becomes the voice of the underrepresented and unorganized,
but that voice is subordinated to the forces of hierarchy and the political
process in most cases. Monypenny, for example, advises administrators on
how to serve the public interest by stating:
The primary determination of the public interest for public servants is
by the action of his political and hierarchic superiors, acting through
the conventional channels, by legislation, and court decisions where applicable.
However there will be areas of discretion still, and in the use
of these the public servant will be exposed to a relatively small group of
persons immediately affected by a proposed action. The public servant
must accept their right to speak and even to be consulted, must consider
the consequences, which they present. But he must remember that there
are others unorganized and not directly represented, and as far as he can
perceive the consequences to them, he must be their representative also in
considering this discretionary action. (Monypenny 1953, 441)
In short, in the Old Public Administration, the public interest was defined
by popularly elected policymakers. It was assumed that administrators could
best serve the public interest by implementing laws in the most efficient,
scientific, politically neutral manner possible. Although the need was for
administrators to be mindful of the public interest in working through conflicts
among special interests in the implementation of legislative policy,
the idea was that their discretion should be limited. Public administrators
would play a largely passive role in reconciling special interests and only
when necessary to allow administrative action.
The New Public Management and the Public Interest
With the ascendancy of the New Public Management in the 1980s and 1990s,
the ideal of the public interest as based on shared values lost currency and
relevancy. As we noted earlier, the New Public Management is predicated on
the notion government should create marketlike arenas of choice in which
individuals, as customers, can make decisions based on their own self-interest.
In the role of customers, individuals do not need to be concerned with the
interests of their fellow customers. As we begin to think about citizens as
being analogous to customers, and government as analogous to a market, the
need to talk about or act upon the “public interest” largely disappears.
In this way, questions about the administrative responsibility with regard
to the public interest are rendered largely irrelevant in the New Public Management.
Public choice theorists, for example, would deny that the “public
interest” as a concept or ideal is meaningful, and would in fact, question
whether it even exists. Their reasoning is that individual choices in a marketlike
arena are superior to collective action based on shared values. Because of
their reliance on the market metaphor, and the assumption that self-interest
is the primary and most appropriate basis of decision making, the shared
public interest becomes both irrelevant and a definitional impossibility. Their
perspective on the public interest would clearly be defined as abolitionist.
As Stone (1997) explains, when society is viewed as a market, it is assumed
that individuals have relatively fixed, independent preferences for goods,
services, and policies (9). “The market model therefore gives us no way to
talk about how people fight over visions of the public interest or the nature
of the community—the truly significant political questions underlying policy
choices” (10). People are considered to be the best judges of their own interest.
The public interest, if it exists at all, is simply the by-product of citizens
(as customers) making individual choices in a marketlike arena.
In the recent past, a shared view of the public interest has been largely
overshadowed by the ascendancy of the New Public Management.
According to Trudi Miller (1989), the negation of the concept of the
public interest, coupled with a reliance on market models of choice and
the pluralist model of politics, has far-reaching and damaging effects on
democratic governance and the field of public administration. In fact, she
argues that, to the extent that public servants adhere to the pluralist view
of politics, they actually contribute to undermining and corrupting liberal
democracy. In a liberal democracy, the institutions of government respond
to “shared popular views of the public interest [while respecting liberties
that are beyond the reach of government] and works to “block efforts by
narrow factions to coerce and tax the public for reasons not warranted by the
public interest” (511). She points out that liberal democracy is based on a
value system that embraces the idea of reciprocity, morality, and populism.
Accordingly, one of the functions of a democracy is to correct the market
imperfections of capitalism.
Miller then argues that the ascendancy of the pluralist model of politics
turns liberal democracy “on its head” by rendering “shared views of the
public interest meaningless and unimportant” and negated “the values that
form the foundations of democracy” (1989, 511). In the pluralist model,
democracy responds to the interplay of special interests, but does not respond
to or recognize shared views of the public interest. In other words,
government in the pluralist model, she says, “does not respond to what the
citizens collectively say they want” (515). Instead, it substitutes the will of
the winning coalition of special interests.
Miller cautions that, to the extent that public servants adhere to a restricted
notion of politics and of social science, they in fact contribute to the demise
of democracy based on a shared view of the public interest. This is so, she
says, simply because our way of thinking and methods of analysis negate its
possibility. When we assume that our responsibilities are defined as responding
to the demands of special interests, when we act on behalf of “winning
coalitions” of narrow interests rather than trying to discover shared values,
when we rely solely on quantitative analysis to determine the “right” course
of action, our behavior reinforces the idea that shared public preferences
either do not exist or are irrelevant.
The New Public Service and the Public Interest
In contrast, the New Public Service rejects the views of the public interest
implicit in both the Old Public Administration and the New Public Management.
In fact, it is the rejection of those perspectives that is a defining feature
of the New Public Service. We argue that public servants have a central and
important role in helping citizens to articulate the public interest, and, con78
versely, that shared values and collective citizen interests should guide the
behavior and decision making of public administrators. This is not to say that
the outcomes of the political process are wrong, or that public administrators
should substitute their own judgments for policies with which they disagree.
Rather, it is that public administrators must work to ensure that citizens are
given a voice in every stage of governance—not just in electoral politics.
Public servants have a unique and vitally important responsibility to engage
with citizens and create forums for public dialogue.
Interestingly, glimpses of this viewpoint can be found in some of the early
voices in the field of public administration. Although these ideas were soon
overshadowed by the views of interest group pluralists, it is interesting to
note some of the early references to the public interest as based on shared
values and long term and common interests of the people. For example,
although Paul Appleby would later come to see the public interest as the
interplay of special interests, in 1950 he said that the job of the administrator
was “to bring into focus—to resolve and integrate—these popularly-felt
needs; to give specific form to responses of the government designed to meet
the needs; to inject foresight and concern for factors not readily visible to
citizens at large; to try so to organize governmental responses as to secure
at least majority consensus or consent” (155). Here, he seems to recognize
that there is a need to think not only of special interests, but also of larger
questions of the public interest and the need to build consensus.
Likewise, in 1954 Emmette Redford wrote that administrative decisions
are based on “common interests and ideas” and that the administrator acting
to “look for common and enduring interests is an essential safeguard for the
public interest” (1107). He made a case for the administrator’s attention to
the underrepresented, but he talked about the importance of future and shared
interests as well: “the real danger is that the interest of the unorganized and
weak, the shared interests of men generally, and the interest of men for tomorrow
will not have proper weight in government councils” (1109).
Despite the early voices calling for administrative attention to the public
interest, the criticisms of such views were insistent and largely successful.
Schubert, for example, dismissed the idea of the public interest as a guiding
force in administrative decision making, deriding the idea of “benevolent
bureaucrats, who are the Guardians of the democratic state” (1957, 349). He
questioned, even ridiculed the appropriateness and reasonableness of what
he argued was the premise of such views, that “the public interest would be
realized if bureaucrats . . . obeyed the exhortations . . . of moralists . . . [to]
Be clever! Be wise! Be good!” (354).
The New Public Service regards these criticisms as simplistic and misplaced.
Administrators need not simply be admonished to be clever or wise
and to act as guardians in judging what is to be considered moral. Instead,
the New Public Service advocates an active and positive role for administrators
in facilitating citizen engagement in defining and acting on the public
interest. The New Public Service also rejects the idea that the public interest
can be understood as the aggregation of individual self-interests. In the New
Public Service, the goal is to move beyond self-interest to discover and act
upon shared interests—the public interest.
This view also affects how we look at trust in government. Ruscio, for
example, argues that in government, “the decline in trust is due to the growing
perception that elected officials, administrators, and citizens seek to maximize
their self interest” (1996, 464). He goes on to emphasize that “[g]enuine
trust depends on an assumption not easily accommodated by rational choice
theorists: Individuals can act on some basis other than their private interest”
(464). This means that trust does not rely on self-interest. Rather, it is based
on norms and values, and assumes that behavior can be influenced by the
shared public interest. In other words, trust will decline if people believe
that the demands of self-interested citizens drive governmental responses.
Citizen trust and confidence in government are built on the perception that
governmental policy is focused on the public interest. Research by Glaser,
Parker, and Payton (2001) and Glaser, Denhardt, and Hamilton (2002) supports
this contention; when government agencies visibly concentrate their
efforts on increasing the well-being of community, it appears they can begin
to close the gap between citizens and government.
The New Public Service suggests that government should encourage
citizens to demonstrate their concern for the larger community, their commitment
to matters that go beyond short-term interests, and their willingness
to assume personal responsibility for what happens in their neighborhoods
and the community. In this view, as suggested in Chapter 2, citizens adopt a
broader and more long-term perspective based both on their knowledge of
public affairs and a sense of belonging, a concern for the whole, and a moral
bond with the community (Sandel 1996).
This is not to suggest that determining what governmental action will
best serve the public interest is a simple or straightforward proposition. As
Edward Weeks points out, “any solutions to a significant public problem
will likely displease some segment of the community” (2000, 362). Seeking
the public interest does not mean that governmental decision makers will
somehow develop policy with which all citizens will agree. Rather, the public
interest is best thought of as a process of community dialogue and engagement.
This process both informs policymaking and builds citizenship. “By
requiring that we interact—that is engage in democratic discourse—with
others, participation broadens our perspectives and helps us see beyond our
own narrow interests” (deLeon and Denhardt 2000, 94). Or as Berry, Portney,
and Thomson put it, “People who participate in the life of the community
share a strong appreciation of its riches” (1993, 239). It is the ability to
transcend narrow interests and recognize shared community interests and
“riches” that is at the core of citizenship in a democracy. Government can
play a central role in facilitating such a process and elevating the discourse
to focus on long-term community interests. As Weeks (2000) found, such
processes may not be quick or easy, but they can be powerful instruments in
engaging citizen dialogue and creating the public will to act.
What we seem to be witnessing is a renewed emphasis on the public
interest and shared values as the basis for the field of public administration.
In fact, several contemporary public administration scholars have used the
concept of the public interest as a means to explain and legitimate the role
of public administration in a democracy. John Rohr (1986), for example, asserted
that the constitutional legitimacy of public administration rests upon
a charge to uphold constitutional values in the public interest. In a similar
vein, Charles Goodsell argued that “public bureaucracy is . . . the leading
institutional embodiment and proponent of the public interest in American
life” (1994, 107).
Similarly, Gary Wamsley and his coauthors (1990) reconceptualized bureaucracy
as the “Public Administration” and argued that the Public Administration
is an institution of government rather than an organizational form. As
such, administration should be defined in large part as competence directed
toward the public interest. In this view, the role of the public administrator
is about both responsiveness and responsibility (1990, 314). Wamsley and
his coauthors suggested that characterizations of civil servants as seeking
status and power are erroneous and harmful. Instead, we should affirm a more
“transcendent” role based on a commitment to the amelioration of societal
problems and improving the quality of citizens’ lives. Citizens should play a
crucial role in public administration and in the shift of the American political
dialogue. “Administrators must seek to expand opportunities for direct citizen
involvement in governance, so that citizens develop the practical wisdom that
is the ultimate basis of trust in administrative good faith” (315).
The idea is not that public administrators become the guardians of democracy
by substituting their superior vision of the public interest for the will of,
for example, the legislative or judicial branches. For public servants to act as
if their version of the public interest is somehow superior to the perspectives
and values of citizens, elected officials, interest groups, and political parties
is at least undemocratic if not outright unethical. Rather, public servants play
a role in facilitating dialogue about the public interest and in acting to realize
those values, within the larger system of political discourse and governance.
In other words, public administrators do not and cannot act as the “administrative
Platonists” that Schubert feared. Acting to single-handedly define
the public interest, in the style of administrative “Lone Rangers,” completely
ignores the active role played by elected officials, citizens, the courts, and
the myriad other participants in the governance process.
In the New Public Service, the public administrator is not the lone arbiter
of the public interest. Rather, the public administrator is seen as a key actor
within a larger system of governance including citizens, groups, elected
representatives, as well as other institutions. As Frederickson states:
The pursuit of self-interest through government, while commonplace,
must be resisted when either citizen or public servant self-interest
erodes the general interest. Rather than merely facilitating the pursuit
of self-interest, the public administrator will continually strive, with
elected representatives and the citizens, to find and articulate a general
or common interest and to cause the government to pursue that interest.
(Frederickson 1991, 415–16)
This argument, of course, has important implications for the roles and
responsibilities of public administrators, emphasizing that the role of government
becomes one of assuring that the public interest predominates, that
both the solutions themselves and the process by which solutions to public
problems are developed are consistent with democratic norms of justice,
fairness, and equity (Ingraham and Ban 1988; Ingraham and Rosenbloom
1989). One of the most important implications of viewing government as
the vehicle for achieving values such as fairness and equity is that the purpose
of government is fundamentally different from that of business. These
differences make the exclusive use of market mechanisms and assumptions
about trust as a self-interested calculation at least suspect. Although
there are many characteristics that distinguish business from government,
government’s responsibility to enhance citizenship and serve the public
interest is one of the most important differences—and is a cornerstone of
the New Public Service.

Chapter 5
Value Citizenship over
Value citizenship over entrepreneurship. The public interest is better
advanced by public servants and citizens committed to making meaningful
contributions to society than by entrepreneurial managers acting as if
public money were their own.
While, in the past, government played a central role in what has been called
the “steering of society” (Nelissen et al. 1999), the complexity of modern life
sometimes makes such a role not only inappropriate, but impossible. Those
policies and programs that give structure and direction to social and political
life today are the result of the interaction of many different groups and
organizations, the mixture of many different opinions and interests. In many
areas, it no longer makes sense to think of public policies as the result of governmental
decision-making processes. Government is indeed a player—and
in most cases a very substantial player. But public policies today, the policies
that guide society, are the outcome of a complex set of interactions involving
multiple groups and multiple interests, ultimately combining in fascinating
and unpredictable ways. Government is no longer “in charge.”
In this new world, the primary role of government is not to direct the actions
of the public through regulation and decree (though that may sometimes
be appropriate), nor is the role of government to simply establish a set of
rules and incentives (sticks or carrots) through which people will be guided
in the “proper” direction. Rather government becomes another player, albeit
an important player, in the process of moving society in one direction or
another. Government acts, in concert with private and nonprofit groups and
organizations, to seek solutions to the problems communities face. In this
process, the role of government is transformed from one of controlling to
one of agenda setting, bringing the proper players “to the table” and facilitating,
negotiating, or “brokering” solutions to public problems (often through
coalitions of public, private, and nonprofit agencies). Whereas traditionally
government has responded to needs by saying, “yes, we can provide that
service” or “no, we can’t,” the New Public Service suggests that elected
officials and public managers should respond to the requests of citizens not
just by saying yes or no, but by saying such things as “Let’s work together
to figure out what we’re going to do, then make it happen.”
In a world of active citizenship, the role of the public servant changes.
Public administrators will increasingly play more than a service-delivery
role—they will play a conciliating, a mediating, or even an adjudicating role.
And they will no longer rely on the skills of management control, but rather
on the skills of facilitating, brokering, negotiating, and conflict resolution.
A Governance Perspective
One of the most important developments in political life today, and one
recognized by the proponents of both the New Public Management and
the New Public Service, is a dramatic change in the way that the rules
and regulations, the programs and processes that guide society are being
developed—or, to put it slightly differently—a change in the way public
policy is being developed. As we noted earlier, in the past, government played
a predominant role in the “steering of society” (Nelissen et al. 1999). That
is not to say that other interests were not represented, but that government
played a decisive role.
To use a sports analogy, the playing field on which the game of public
policy formation occurred was one prescribed by government, and the primary
players were elected public officials and policy advisors throughout
government agencies. In turn, public administrators, playing on the same
field, though often somewhere near the sidelines, were largely concerned
with the implementation of public policies. They were concerned with
managing their organizations so that the proper things would get done. But
time and circumstances have changed. The game of public policy formulation
is no longer played primarily by those in government. You might even
say that now the audience is no longer in the stands, but right there on the
field, participating in every play. To put this more formally, there has been
a reformulation of the steering mechanisms of society. Today many groups
and many interests are directly involved in the development and implemenA
tation of public policy. “This means that steering goes through channels
other than the controlled hierarchical structures of central government”
(Nelissen 2002, 6).
There are several reasons this has occurred. First, the more fluid character
of the market, especially the expansion of international or global
markets, has opened new issues to public concern. Governments are engaging
more extensively with other governments and with organizations
like the World Trade Organization (WTO), to say nothing of multinational
corporations and similarly large and complex nongovernmental organizations.
Second, the welfare state has been reconfigured so that government
itself is no longer the primary actor in the delivery of services. Especially
in this country, welfare and other governmental responsibilities have been
pushed down to lower levels of government and out to for-profit and nonprofit
Donald Kettl has commented on these trends in globalization and devolution
as follows:
In short, America’s preeminent policy strategies have tended to grow beyond
the nation-state, to linkages with international organizations, and to
focus below it, to partnerships with subnational, for-profit, and nonprofit
organizations. Supranational organizations have grown to new but poorly
understood functions. Subnational organizations have transformed the role
of state and local governments. As we have debated privatizing government,
they have paradoxically also governmentalized a substantial part of
the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. The federal government’s institutions,
political and administrative, find themselves with yet more challenges,
from orchestrating these partnerships to shaping the national interest. The
roles of all these players have changed dramatically. Managing these roles
requires capacity that lies far beyond the standard responses, structures,
and processes that have gradually accumulated in American government.
(Kettl 2000b, 489–90)
Third, technology has made possible greater and greater public access to
the policy process, not only in the sense that people can access information
more easily and can use that information to greater impact. Whereas in the
past government had somewhat of a monopoly on the collection and dissemination
of large amounts of data—and enjoyed a unique position because of
this—today that capacity is widely distributed. As a result, government’s role
in the policy process has been diminished. In this sense, Harlan Cleveland
was correct in predicting that the global information explosion would lead
to the “twilight of hierarchy” (1985).
Similarly, H. Brinton Milward has suggested several related factors that
have caused the dispersion of power and responsibility that characterizes
the contemporary policy process: (1) institutional overlap, (2) overlapping
authority among levels of government, (3) the fact that particular organizations
have only limited responsibility for program implementation, and (4)
public policy instruments that cause fragmentation (e.g., grants, contracts,
and subsidies) (1991, 52). These factors have led to the development of what
have been called “policy networks,” networks composed of businesses, labor
unions, nonprofit organizations, interest groups, governmental actors, and
ordinary citizens. These policy networks now constitute the main arenas in
which the game of public policy is played out.
In fact, what we are witnessing is the development of many different policy
networks—each serving its own substantive interests, whether transportation,
social welfare, education, or another area. Each network focuses on its
own policy area and, in many ways, defines the way in which policies will
be developed in that area. That is, one set of rules might define the way the
“defense” game is played, while another set of rules might define how the
“social welfare” game is played. In each arena, major developments in public
policy, and major developments in the steering of society, are likely to occur
through a difficult and convoluted process of bargaining and negotiation
within that particular policy network.
Under these circumstances, the role of government is changing. As we
witness a fragmentation of policy responsibility in society, we must also
recognize that the traditional mechanisms of governmental control are no
longer workable—or even appropriate. Traditional hierarchical government
is giving way to a growing decentralization of policy interests. Control is
giving way to interaction and involvement. Today, national, state, and local
governments are involved in governance along with thousands of citizens,
other public institutions, private companies, and nonprofit organizations. For
this reason, it increasingly makes sense to talk not just about government,
but about the process of governance.
We define governance as the exercise of public authority. The word
“government” is usually used to refer to the structures and institutions of
government and of those public organizations formally charged with setting
policy and delivering services. Governance, on the other hand, is a much
broader concept. Governance can be defined as the traditions, institutions,
and processes that determine the exercise of power in society, including how
decisions are made on issues of public concern and how citizens are given
voice in public decisions. Governance speaks to how society actually makes
choices, allocates resources, and creates shared values; it addresses societal
decision making and the creation of meaning in the public sphere. As John
Kirlin argues, existing conceptions of government which emphasize service
delivery “undervalue the large role governments must successfully perform
in providing the institutional framework for all human activity” (1996, 161).
Governments exist, he says, to create value, including the value of place and
the character of community.
In the overall scheme of governance, then, what role will formal government
play? First, government will continue to play an overall role in establishing
the legal and political rules through which various networks will
operate. We might say that government will operate at the “meta-level,” that
is, government will help in ratifying, codifying, and legitimizing decisions
that arise from within the various policy networks. Moreover, government
will continue to establish broad principles of governance that apply to all,
for example, setting the overarching rules of the game. Second, government
will likely help in resolving resource distribution and dependency issues
within various networks, but especially between and among those networks.
Government will aid in protecting economic interests that are played out in
the relationships between different sectors or policy networks; it will play a
role of balancing, negotiating, and facilitating relationships across network
boundaries (often through the use of incentives rather than directives), and
assuring that one sector doesn’t come to dominate others. Third, government
will be required to monitor the interplay of networks to assure that principles
of democracy and social equity are maintained within specific networks and
in the relationships between and among the different networks. Government
must make sure that democratic processes are maintained and that ultimately
the public interest is served.
Just as the steering of society is changing, so are the roles and responsibilities
of elected and appointed public officials changing—and changing in
exactly parallel ways. Not surprisingly, each of the three roles we have just
described—those associated with legal or political standards, those associated
with economic or market considerations, and those associated with democratic
or social criteria—are reflected in popular approaches to understanding the role
of government and especially public administration today. As the steering of
society has changed, the roles of public officials and the standards by which
administrative performance will be judged have also changed.
How have these three new roles of government been translated into schools
of theory and practice, and how do they affect the standards or expectations
for assessing governmental performance? The first of these schools of theory
and practice is the most familiar and most easily characterized. Attention to
the development of legal and political standards will continue to be important
in the field of public affairs. According to this school, public officials are
involved in designing and implementing policies focused on limited, politically
defined objectives. They are bound by the law and by political realities.
They are concerned with developing programs through the traditional agencies
of government. In turn, these policies are carried out by administrators
in the various agencies of government. The question of accountability—the
question of how administrators know that their work is consistent with the
wishes of the people—is answered by the accountability of administrators
to democratically elected political leaders. The school of theory and practice
associated with this approach is simply traditional public policy and public
administration, the Old Public Administration.
The next two approaches have emerged much more recently. The second,
which has to do with economic and market considerations, is based in a view
of political life which sees the role of government as continuing to steer, at
least in the sense of acting as a catalyst to unleash the forces of the market
and in creating mechanisms and incentive structures to achieve policy objectives
through private and nonprofit agencies. The approach to accountability
reflected in this viewpoint suggests that ultimately the accumulation
of individual self-interests will result in outcomes desired by broad groups
of citizens, which, as we saw earlier, this approach calls “customers.” The
school of public administration theory and practice associated with this approach
is, of course, the New Public Management.
The third emerging (or perhaps reemerging) role of government focuses
on democratic and social criteria. This view suggests that the public interest
is paramount and that the public interest is the result of a dialogue about
mutual or overlapping interests. It sees the role of government as brokering
interests among citizens and other groups so as to create shared values. This
might mean, for example, building coalitions of public, private, and nonprofit
agencies to meet mutually agreed upon needs. John Hall states the challenge
facing public administration well: “Public management that embraces the
power and refines the craft of collaboration, facilitative leadership, publicprivate
partnerships, and ‘catalytic governance,’ is the new formula. . . . In
that spirit, . . . proactive public management will need to sharpen its capacity
to listen” (Hall 2002, 24, italics added). The understanding of accountability
(which will be addressed more fully in Chapter 7) reflected in this approach
suggests that public servants must attend to law, community values, political
norms, professional standards, and citizen interests. The school of public
administration theory and practice most clearly associated with this approach
is, of course, the New Public Service.
The Old Public Administration and the Administrator’s Role
As we saw earlier, public administration has always struggled with the question
of the administrator’s role in developing policy and with the relationship
between administrators and other policymakers. The earliest statements
on this issue suggested a separation of policy and administration. Elected
political leaders were charged with making policy and administrators were
charged with carrying out policy. The administrator, though insulated from
the citizenry, was accountable to elected political leaders who were in turn
accountable to the electorate, who could vote them out of office, thus maintaining
a “chain” of democratic control by citizens over administrators.
The dichotomy of policy and administration, if it was ever fact, came
quickly to be regarded as fiction. Administrators came to play an increasingly
important though often reluctant role in the policy process. Their reluctance
was understandable. If administrators came to substantially influence the
policy process, one might ask whether the notion of democratic accountability
envisioned under the policy-administration dichotomy would still be
sufficient. Where the administrator’s role only had to do with implementation,
the major choices about societal direction were still being made by elected
political leaders who would be held to account every two, four, or six years.
But as the administrator’s influence in the policy process grew, that chain of
accountability came into question. How could citizens be sure that administrators
were making policy choices responsive to the public interest?
Administrators were also reluctant to engage in the policy process because
they were unclear about their relationship with elected leaders. Traditional
public administration, for various reasons, conceived of elected political
leaders as having far greater prestige and standing than appointed officials.
Administrators engaging in policymaking might be taken as an affront to
the authority of elected leaders. It might be seen as taking some of the rightful
power away from the people’s representatives. Certainly if power were
seen as a zero-sum game, there could be no other explanation. Given that
circumstance, combined with the fact that the elected leaders could still fire
appointed officials, it just didn’t seem like a good idea to “challenge” the
elected leadership by overt involvement in the policy process.
For these reasons, when public administrators reluctantly moved into
making public policy, they did so only under several “cloaks.” There was,
for example, the cloak of discretion. Administrators could justify their policy
role by pointing out that legislation is often, even necessarily broad and requires
administrators to define more carefully what legislated policies mean.
Administrators exercising discretion are, of course, making policy, but they
are required to do so by the breadth of legislation. There was also the cloak
of expertise. The argument was that administrators have special knowledge
and expertise in the areas of their particular interest and that their expertise
needed to be brought into the policy process. Legislators, as generalists,
could not be expected to know as much about any particular policy area as
administrators who had spent their careers working on those specific problems.
So, under the Old Public Administration, administrators were reluctant
participants in the policy process, maintaining their neutrality long after it
was evident that they substantially influenced public policy.
Beneath the cloaks of justification for the administrator’s involvement
in policymaking, there were occasional hints of something broader—a philosophy
that put administrators much more at the center of the governmental
process. Theorists recommended creating single centers of administrative
responsibility and control through which administrators could influence
the rational development of plans to meet societal goals. Specific analytic
tools could be developed to calculate optimum policy choices. The result
was a shift from dealing with problems through politics to dealing with
problems through management. While playing this role, albeit carefully
and in silence, administrators could employ their expertise and experience
in order to make more rational controlled plans and decisions for (not by)
citizens. As Schneider and Ingram remark, “Carried to its extreme, public
policy becomes a scientific enterprise dominated by experts who discover
the public interest, find optimal policies to achieve it, and develop decision
instruments to ensure control over the implementation process. People are
simply the targets of policy, available to be manipulated through inducements
or penalties to achieve policy goals, rather than citizens who are integral to
the democratic process and to the production of socially desirable results”
(1997, 38).
The New Public Management and the Administrator’s Role
The New Public Management’s approach to the question of the administrator’s
role in policy development has two distinct faces. On one hand,
the New Public Management conceives of a much more active role for the
administrator in the policy process, the role of policy entrepreneur. On the
other hand, the New Public Management urges managers to respond to
“customer” demands and, wherever possible, to structure policies so that
“customers” can choose, that is, to move as many choices as possible even
further out of the political arena by converting those policy alternatives into
market choices. In either case, the New Public Management even further
extends the rational calculus of costs and benefits in its examination of
policy alternatives.
Establishing public managers as “entrepreneurs” is an essential element
of the New Public Management. Indeed, the subtitle of the “bible” of
the New Public Management, the book Reinventing Government, is How
the Entrepreneurial Spirit Is Transforming the Public Sector (1992). Its
authors, Osborne and Gaebler, describe entrepreneurship as maximizing
productivity and effectiveness, but entrepreneurship embraces more than
mere resourcefulness. First, there is the basic concern for “letting managers
manage,” giving managers wide latitude to conduct their affairs without the
constraints of typical modes of accountability, such as budget restrictions or
personnel policies (Pollitt 1993). An example from Gaebler’s experience as
a city manager is used by Osborne and Gaebler to elaborate this point, “The
idea was to get them [the city’s management team] thinking like owners, ‘If
this were my money, would I spend it this way?’” (1992, 3).
More important, the manager is urged to take an active role in promoting
policies, “arrangements” or “deals” that he or she thinks would benefit
their community or agency. Moreover, the entrepreneurial public manager
is encouraged to assume risks wherever necessary in order to arrive at more
creative and innovative solutions to public problems. Eugene Lewis described
three entrepreneurial “giants” of public management (Hyman Rickover,
Herbert Hoover, and Robert Moses) in this way: They were not “criminals
in any conventional sense; rather, they were ‘rule benders.’ They were crafty,
and they pushed the limits of what was legal and permissible time after time
without getting caught or, when caught, without serious punishment” (1980,
243). In sum, as Larry Terry puts it, the New Public Management supports
a position in which “public managers are (and should be) self-interested,
opportunistic innovators and risk-takers who exploit information and situations
to produce radical change” (1998, 197).
The policy role of the public entrepreneur has been called into question
by several writers. First, policy entrepreneurs may be creative and innovative,
but they can also be opportunistic and uncompromising. “As a practical
matter, in real organizations, entrepreneurial managers pose a difficult and
risky problem, they can be innovative and productive, but their single-mindedness,
tenacity, and willingness to bend the rules make them very difficult to
control. They can become “loose cannons” (deLeon and Denhardt 2000, 92).
Second, there is the question of accountability. The idea of public managers
independently making policy choices in the guise of “getting the best deal”
and, even more important, acting as if the public’s money were their own
flies in the face of a long tradition of democratic accountability and fiscal
integrity in government. The public’s business and the public’s money, many
would argue, should be treated as the public’s.
In addition to recommending a more entrepreneurial role for public managers,
the New Public Management also recommends structuring choices so
that they can be made by “customers” in a market rather than by actors in
the political sphere. The key, according to Osborne and Gaebler, would be
to create market incentives where now there are political choices:
In education, this might mean moving to a competitive market in which
customers have choices and key stakeholders (parents and teachers) have
genuine control. In job training, it might mean injecting information about
the quality of all training providers into the system, putting resources
directly into customers’ hands, providing them with accessible brokers,
and empowering them to choose between competing providers. In unemployment
insurance, it might mean creating a financial incentive for
corporations to retrain employees rather than lay them off, or creating an
incentive for those collecting unemployment to seek retraining. (Osborne
and Gaebler 1992, 308)
Again, recommendations such as these are consistent with the New Public
Management’s dependence on public choice theory and its assumption that
the market is the central institution in society and can be relied on, more
than other institutions (certainly more than government), to provide for free
and fair choices. Through market mechanisms individuals can pursue their
own best interests with minimal constraint. Markets, it is argued, are free
and without coercion, where government and public policy are coercive. In
this view, the only role for government is to correct for market failures and
provide goods and services that the market is not able to convey.
This argument is related to public choice theory’s more general critique
of the policy process. Roughly, that critique first suggests that government
provides certain goods or services that could be better handled through the
market and that government is not efficiently organized to deliver many
services. For example, advocates of this position argue that if education
were provided on the basis of consumer choice, say, through vouchers, the
competition for students would increase the quality of the service being
delivered. Schools would have to improve to attract students, their “customers.”
Competition would require schools to act more efficiently than if they
remained under the aegis of government.
Moreover, proponents of public choice theory argue that political leaders
and “bureaucrats,” motivated by self-interest, seek excessive increases in
programs and budgets, beyond what the public really wants. Finally, they
argue that government programs breed “dependency,” since recipients of
services find it in their self-interest to partake of those programs rather than
being self-sufficient. This argument is often made with respect to welfare,
where it may appear that having a second child would increase the size of
the welfare payment and therefore be an incentive to do so. The same argument
might also be made with respect to farmers who received subsidies for
growing or even not growing specific crops.
In contrast to centralized government programs, public choice theory
recommends decentralization, privatization, and competition. Recommendations
flowing from this position include privatizing government functions
wherever possible, contracting with private firms (selected through a
competitive bid process) in other cases, creating competitive arrangements
within those government agencies that remain, and charging full market
value for public goods. Specific programs might include the movement
to “choice” in educational policy, contracting for social services, and the
development of water policy based on market prices (Schneider and Ingram
1997, 46). Again, the effect of the New Public Management or the public
choice position is to drive public policy out of the political arena and into
the market, where the decisions of self-interested parties, “customers,” will
drive policy choices.
We should point out that the New Public Management gives the manager
considerable independence with respect to policy development. On the one
hand, administrators (as “entrepreneurs”) are urged to act independently to
move their own preferred policies or “deals” forward. At the same time, the
manager must try to assess consumer preferences, then, based on that assessment,
to pursue his or her own interpretation of the public’s desires largely
unconstrained by external mechanisms of accountability (see Chapter 7).
What is, of course, missing in all this is the involvement of citizens in the
process of democratic governance. If you look, for example, at the index of
Reinventing Government, you won’t find terms such as “equity” or “justice.”
Nor will you find “citizens” or “citizenship.” It’s really quite remarkable that
a reform movement as significant as the New Public Management could move
forward with such sparse attention to democratic citizenship.
The New Public Service and the Administrator’s Role
The New Public Service, unlike the New Public Management, is distinguished
by the involvement of citizens in the administrative process. In
Chapter 3, we examined various dimensions of citizenship and began to
build the case for a richer and fuller engagement of citizens in the policy
process. The New Public Service builds on the tradition of democratic
citizenship described in that chapter, especially as it urges extensive and
authentic citizen involvement in the development of public policy. Here we
review some of the reasons that governments are increasingly involving
citizens in the process of making public policy and why public administrators
might find greater citizen involvement attractive. Then we will review
a number of different approaches to structuring more extensive programs
for civic engagement.
Citizen involvement in government is certainly not a new concept. Indeed,
some level of citizen involvement is essential to democratic governance—by
definition. However, historically, our representative democracy has largely
confined the role of the citizen to voting every few years and occasionally
communicating with elected officials. More recently, the rise of special
interest groups has restructured the relationship between citizens and their
At the same time, government has opened new avenues for more direct
citizen involvement. Beginning with the War on Poverty in the 1960s, governments
have designed opportunities for “maximum feasible participation”
into their processes of policy design and implementation. Consequently,
dozens of approaches to soliciting citizen input into the policy process
have been tried, ranging from public hearings to citizen surveys, and from
planning boards to community panels. While many of these efforts have
failed to produce what King, Feltey, and O’Neill (1998) call “authentic
participation,” and while there is clearly a need to continue to refine the
process of citizen involvement, there is no question but that public managers
will need to be attentive to the question of participation. As John Clayton
Thomas indicates, “the new public involvement has transformed the work
of public managers . . . public participation in the managerial process has
become a fact of life. In the future, this may become the case for even more
managers, since the public’s demand for involvement does not seem to be
abating” (1995, xi).
There are a variety of both theoretical and practical reasons why public
administrators should encourage great citizen involvement in the policy
process. At the theoretical level, as we saw earlier, the ethical posture of the
public administrator requires an attitude of caring and involvement. David
K. Hart (1984) points out that the professional obligation of administrators
begins with their duties as virtuous citizens, and that creates an essential link
to other citizens. In exercising their public trust, not only must administrators
maintain adherence to “regime values,” they should be expected to care for
their fellow citizens and interact with them on the basis of trust. He suggests
that administrators must learn to trust that citizens, given the opportunity, will
make the right choices. Interestingly enough, given our earlier discussion of
“entrepreneurial government,” Hart uses the term “moral entrepreneur” to
describe the administrator who is obligated to conduct public affairs on the
basis of trust rather than compulsion, something that may require a certain
moral “risk-taking” that is even more significant than economic risk-taking.
As Louis Gawthrop states, “to commit oneself to the service of democracy
requires, at least, a conscious and mature awareness of (1) the ethical impulses
of democracy, (2) the transcendent values of democracy, and (3) the
moral vision of democracy” (1998, 24).
Others have pointed out that the administrator bears a responsibility to
help educate citizens. We noted earlier the argument that participation in the
activities of citizenship can serve an educative function, helping people to
entertain broader interests than their own and to understand the complexities
of the governance process. Participation in democratic governance builds
moral character, an empathetic understanding of the needs of others, and
the skills to engage in collective action. In that process of education, some
have argued, administrators are in a unique position, that of being “civic
educators.” “Because they comprise that segment of the expert realm that
is most insulated from the adversarial process, they are best situated to take
the lead in framing questions so that public debate can be made intelligible.
They have the prime responsibility for teasing out the essential social and
ethical issues at stake from the welter of scientific data and legal formalisms
in which those issues are enveloped” (Landy 1993, 25). Importantly, in this
context, the educative role of the administrator is not merely that of “giving
advice,” but rather that of creating circumstances of dialogue and engagement
where mutual learning can take place.
Finally, and most basically, as Bellah et al. write, “democracy is paying
attention” (1991, 254). As an active participant in democratic governance,
the administrator bears a responsibility to listen to the voices of citizens
and to be responsive to what is said. In the process of listening, carefully
and clearly, the administrator joins self and society in a reflexive relationship.
Stivers puts it this way, “As we improve our ability to listen, we
increasingly understand the extent to which we hear ourselves in others
and they in us; this reciprocity is evoked in our theories and practices of
justice. Instead of stripping away the qualities of unique individuals in
favor of the ideal of universality, listening expands justice to include the
details of the situation and the significant differences among human beings”
(1994b, 366).
In addition to these theoretical considerations, there are several more
practical reasons for involving citizens in the process of policy development.
First, greater participation can help meet citizens’ expectations that
they are being heard and that their needs and interests are being pursued.
Second, greater participation can improve the quality of public policy, as
governments tap wider sources of information, creativity, and solutions.
Third, greater participation in the policy process aids implementation, as
participants have more of a stake in the outcomes. Fourth, greater participation
responds to calls for greater transparency and accountability in
government. Fifth, greater participation is likely to increase public trust in
government. Sixth, greater participation can help meet the challenges of an
emerging information society. Seventh, greater participation can create the
possibility for new partnerships being developed. Eighth, greater participation
can result in a better informed public. Ninth, in a democracy, it’s simply
the right thing to do.
Robert Reich sums up the position of the public manager nicely when
he writes:
But sometimes, I believe, higher-level public managers have an obligation
to stimulate public debate about what they do. Public deliberation can
help the manager clarify ambiguous mandates. More importantly, it can
help the public discover latent contradictions and commonalities in what
it wants to achieve. Thus the public manager’s job is not only, or simply,
to make policy choices and implement them. It is also to participate in a
system of democratic governance in which public values are continuously
rearticulated and recreated. (Reich 1988, 123–24)
Unfortunately, in many cases, policymakers have failed to involve citizens
in the policy process. Peter deLeon has examined this issue in detail
and finds numerous flaws in the current approach to policy development.
As opposed to Harold Lasswell’s ideal of policy sciences that would
“improve the practice of democracy” (quoted in deLeon 1997, 7), policy
research today is largely carried out by technically trained policy analysts
engaged in detailed policy studies and cost-benefit analysis. In deLeon’s
words, these analysts are “effectively sequestered from the demands,
needs and (most critically) values of the people they are reputed to be
helping” (1997, 8). Without the involvement of the people in the process
of policy development, the policy sciences may be in danger of becoming
what Lasswell feared, the “policy sciences of tyranny.” In contrast
to a policy science dominated by technical expertise, engaging ordinary
citizens in the process of policy development seems most consistent with
the democratic dream.
While citizens have sometimes been simply ignored in the process, in
other instances they have been involved for the wrong reasons and with
poor results. For example, participation has been used to put off decisions
by engaging in endless discussions or it has been undertaken with no real
commitment on the part of the administrator to use the information and
advice that is developed. Even worse, as we have often seen, the decision
has already been made, making the involvement of citizens a mere pretense.
These “cosmetic” efforts at participation constitute failures from which we
can learn as we think about ways to more fully engage citizens in the process
of governance.
There have been much more positive experiences with citizen involvement
as well—in this country and around the world. These examples have been
documented in numerous publications (for example, see OECD 2001; Sirianni
and Friedland 2001; Thomas 1995). Based on a comprehensive worldwide
survey of these activities, the Public Management Service Working Group
on Government-Citizen Connections of the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD) defines three levels of involvement,
information, consultation, and active participation:
Information is a one-way relationship in which government produces and
delivers information for citizens. It covers both “passive” access to information
upon demand by citizens and “active” measures by government
to disseminate information. Examples include, access to public records,
official gazettes, government websites.
Consultation is a two-way relationship in which citizens provide feedback
to government. Governments define the issues for consultation, set the
questions and manage the process, while citizens are invited to contribute
their views and opinions. Examples include, public opinion surveys, comments
on draft legislation.
Active participation is a relation based on partnership with government,
in which citizens actively engage in defining the process and content of
policy-making. It acknowledges equal standing for citizens in setting the
agenda, proposing policy options and shaping the policy dialogue—although
the responsibility for the final decision or policy formulation rests with
government. Examples include, consensus conferences, citizens’ juries.
(OECD 2001, 23)
As important as practical designs for participation are, there are significant
conceptual difficulties in structuring processes of civic engagement.
Interestingly, most of these concerns center on the question of dialogue,
debate, deliberation, or discourse—that is, how citizens, politicians, and
administrators can engage in a full and complete discussion of the relevant
issues facing the polity in a way that is representative of or even inclusive
of the citizenry as a whole, that incorporates both technical information
and political preferences, and that takes all viewpoints into account through
constructive and informed debate.
Obviously, traditional avenues for participation, such as public hearings
or advisory boards, involve a limited number of people and typically only
those with a special interest in the topic at hand. Moreover, these approaches
typically are limited in the amount of informed dialogue that can take place.
For these reasons, they present policymakers with a somewhat skewed ver98
sion of the public’s opinion. One way to try to move beyond this limitation
is to create more representative bodies and permit them to interact at length
around policy issues before arriving at a policy recommendation. James
Fishkin, for example, has argued for what he calls a “deliberative opinion
poll” as a way of better assessing public opinion (Fishkin 1991, 1995). The
deliberative opinion poll brings together a statistically representative group of
people in one place for a period of several days, immerses them in the issue
through carefully balanced briefing material, and allows them to engage in a
sustained process of face-to-face interaction and to ask questions of experts
and political leaders, then arrive at a conclusion. Through this process of
deliberation, it is hoped that the participants will learn from one another and
may modify their initial positions, perhaps arriving at a consensus. In any
case, a final poll of the participants may then be taken as a “proxy” for the
society as a whole.
Fishkin’s work is paralleled in some ways by that of Daniel Yankelovich,
who begins with another concern raised above—the possibility that expert
knowledge will come to dominate the policy process, allowing little room
for the public. To offset this tendency, he argues for enhancing the quality
of public opinion or what he terms, “public judgment,” a particular form of
public opinion that exhibits “(1) more thoughtfulness, more weighing
of alternatives, more genuine engagement with the issue, more taking into
account a wide variety of factors than public opinion as measured in opinion
polls, and (2) more emphasis on the normative, valuing, ethical side of
questions than on the factual, informational side” (1991). To sharpen public
judgment, Yankelovich recommends a structured process of deliberation,
through which participants can assess options, develop information needed
to make choices, engage in reasoned discussion with their peers, and arrive
at a reflective judgment. In this process, participants, indeed, citizens generally,
will be aided by creating circumstances for “dialogue,” situations in
which there is equality and the absence of coercive influences, listening with
empathy, and bring assumptions into the open (1999, 41–44). Again, the key
to countering technical expertise (and its potential for unwanted control)
is the process of extensive dialogue by citizens. “Information stripped of
feelings is not the royal road to public judgment; dialogue, rich in feelings
and values, is” (25).
Benjamin Barber takes a similar tack in his argument in behalf of “strong
democracy,” a form of participatory democracy involving a community of
citizens “capable of common purpose and mutual action by virtue of their
civic attitudes and participatory institutions” (1984, 117). In Barber’s view,
the masses become citizens when they deliberate. Citizen participation
lacking the quality of deliberation is empty. For this reason, it is important
for those involved in designing institutions that would enable great citizen
involvement to understand clearly the nature of “democratic talk,” which
involves listening as well as speaking, feeling as well as thinking, and acting
as well as reflecting (178). Again, the qualities of empathy, emotion, and
activity come to the fore. Thought of in this way, democratic talk can, in
Barber’s view, serve many functions. Most often we think of political talk
as involving the articulation of interests, persuasion, and bargaining and
exchange. Democratic talk can also assist in agenda setting, exploring mutuality,
affiliation and affection, maintaining autonomy, witnessing, expressing,
reformulating, and reconceptualizing. Most important, democratic talk can
assist in community building, creating public interests, common goods, and
active citizens (178–98).
A number of theorists have examined the question of deliberative democracy
from a more philosophical perspective. Jurgen Habermas, for
example, has argued that, while our society operates under a narrow definition
of rationality, one consistent with a society dominated by technology
and bureaucracy, we maintain an innate capacity to reason in a much larger
sense. Moreover, it is this capacity to reason that enables us to communicate
across various social and ideological boundaries. But for reason to prevail
in any given situation, we must (1) engage in a dialogue, not a monologue,
and (2) the dialogue must be free of domination and distortion. Where one
party to the communication has more power than another, the communication
is distorted. Genuine communication in a democracy can only take
place where all forms of domination, both apparent and subtle, have been
eliminated. A part of our being human is a “gentle, but obstinate, a never
silent although seldom redeemed claim to reason, a claim that must be recognized
whenever and wherever there is to be consensual action” (quoted
in Yankelovich 1991, 217).
In Between Facts and Norms, Habermas (1996) uses the theory of communicative
action (briefly sketched above) as the basis for a form of “deliberative
democracy.” While Habermas is skeptical of a whole society governing
itself through deliberative processes, he feels that within “institutionalized
discursive structures” people can in fact reason together. But remember the
problem of distortion. Distortion can come about in many ways—through
overt exercises of power and influence, through economic pressures and
market manipulation, or through the capture of the media for political or
economic purposes. Under these circumstances, creating deliberative democracy
is very difficult, but at least we have some direction as to what would
be required to achieve that objective.
Other efforts to elaborate theories of deliberative democracy have sought
to spell out the theoretical considerations concerning the legitimacy of
various forms of deliberative democracy—and the resulting debates have
been intense. (See, for example, Dryzek 1999; Gutman and Thompson
1996; Macedo 1999.) Some of these have focused on the circumstances
under which people would agree that outcomes of a deliberative process
are valid. Seyla Benhabib, for example, has suggested three conditions
required for such a process to be considered legitimate: “(1) Participation
in such deliberation is governed by the norms of equality and symmetry;
all have the same chance to initiate speech acts, to question, to interrogate,
and to open debate; (2) All have the right to question the assigned topics of
conversation; (3) All have the right to initiate reflexive arguments about the
very rules of the discourse procedure and the way in which they are applied
or carried out” (1996, 70).
Postmodern theorists, including public administration theorists, have
also entered into the debate. Charles Fox and Hugh Miller, for example,
criticize representative democracy as neither representative nor democratic
(1995). Rather, the supposedly legitimizing force of democratic deliberation
has been replaced by top-down bureaucratic systems and media-infused
politics. As an alternative, Fox and Miller offer a set of conditions
under which legitimate and “authentic discourse” might take place. Such
deliberations would have to occur in a way that would exclude insincere
claims, those that are only self-serving, those from persons unwilling
to attend to the discourse, and claims from “free-riders.” Forums built
around norms of inclusion, attentiveness, and understanding may aid in
reasserting the democratic ideal. Other theorists, such as Farmer (1995)
and McSwite (1997), have taken the issue a step further by arguing that
our being limited to “rational” discourse may inhibit our capacity to see
beyond our own experience and to engage new ideas and new relationships
in a fundamentally different way. “The very essence of the discourse
perspective is the idea of creating a kind of relationship among people
such that when they engage in dialogue, the source of the fundamentally
new will come into play” (McSwite 2000, 60).
In this chapter, we have explored the new conditions under which the “steering
of society” is taking place and how the Old Public Administration, the
New Public Management, and the New Public Service have responded to
the challenges these circumstances present for public managers engaged
in the policy process. In contrast to a reliance on bureaucratic expertise or
managerial entrepreneurship, the New Public Service argues for a vastly
enhanced capacity for citizen involvement in all aspects of the process. We
have examined a variety of approaches to engaging citizens in the governance
process, as well as some of the important theoretical considerations that must
go into any design choice. While we should point out once again that there
are differences, even dramatic differences, among these viewpoints, they all
share the same concern for democratic governance and civic engagement
that is central to the New Public Service, yet missing in the Old Public Administration
and the New Public Management. In all cases, these theorists
are concerned with improving dialogue, deliberation, or discourse to better
meet the tenets of democratic governance.
The first section of this chapter was adapted from a previously published paper:
Robert Denhardt and Janet Denhardt, 2001, “The New Public Service, Putting
Democracy First,” National Civic Review 90(4): 391–400. The paper was originally
prepared for the Arizona Town Hall.

Chapter 6
Think Strategically, Act Democratically
Think strategically, act democratically. Policies and programs meeting
public needs can be most effectively and responsibly achieved through
collective efforts and collaborative processes.
In Chapter 4, we argued that the public interest is based upon widespread
public dialogue and deliberation about shared values and interests. In the
New Public Service, the idea is not merely to establish the vision and then
leave the implementation to those in government; rather, it is to join together
all parties in the process of both designing and carrying out programs that
will move in the desired direction. Through involvement in programs of civic
education and by helping to develop a broad range of civic leaders, government
can stimulate a renewed sense of civic pride and civic responsibility.
We would expect that such a sense of pride and responsibility would evolve
into a greater willingness to be involved at many levels, as all parties work
together to create opportunities for participation, collaboration, and community.
Again, this participation should not be limited to framing the issues,
it should also extend to policy implementation.
How might this be done? To begin with there is an obvious and important
role for political leadership—to articulate and encourage a strengthening of
citizen responsibility and, in turn, to support groups and individuals involved
in building the bonds of community. Government can’t create community;
but government, and, more specifically, political leadership can lay the
groundwork for effective and responsible citizen action. People must come
to recognize that government is open and accessible—and that won’t happen
unless government is open and accessible, both in the process of policy
formulation and in program implementation. People must come to recognize
that government is responsive—and that won’t happen unless government is
responsive in both framing programs and delivering services. People must
come to recognize that government exists to meet their needs—and that won’t
happen unless it does. The best way to do so is to create opportunities for
participation and collaboration in achieving public purposes. The aim then
is to make sure that government is open and accessible, that it is responsive,
and that it operates to serve citizens and create opportunities for citizenship
in all phases of the policy process.
Accordingly, assumptions regarding the role of public administrators and
citizens in the implementation of public policy are key to understanding the
nature of citizenship and relationship of public administration to the larger
system of democratic governance. Early writers suggested that the role of
public administration consisted of the efficient implementation of politically
determined goals with little or no direct citizen involvement. Later works
portrayed the implementation process as much more complex and multifaceted,
but still largely ignored the role of citizens.
In order to understand the underlying principles of implementation in the
context of the New Public Service values, this chapter will first briefly consider
the evolution of implementation theory from a historical perspective.
We then examine contemporary models of implementation and relate them
to the assumptions and values of the New Public Management. We follow
that with an explanation of the theoretical foundations that support a more
democratic and participative approach to implementation.
Implementation in Historical Perspective
Interestingly, the study of “implementation” did not exist per se in the early
stages of the development of public administration. This is not because
public agencies were not involved in implementation. Rather, in a sense,
implementation was invisible as a separate concept or function because it
constituted the whole of the field of public administration. Virtually the sole
purpose of public agencies was to implement politically determined policies
and programs. Because the goal of public administration was to maintain
neutrality and to use administrative expertise to achieve efficiency, there was
no need to have a concept of implementation, because the assumption was
that the policy would remain largely unchanged as public agencies acted
upon it. After all, as Wilson, Goodnow, and other founding scholars in the
field asserted, the political sphere made the decisions, and the administrative
apparatus simply and mechanically put them into action. In short, the
process of policy implementation didn’t call for study or theory because it
wasn’t considered important relative to the decisions already made by the
Accordingly, theory and practice focused on achieving politically determined
ends. This lead to a concentration on the structures and functions of
organizations that long characterized the field. Even in the 1940s and 1950s,
with growing recognition that politics and administration were not entirely
separate, the focus remained on the management of organizations to achieve
efficiency and cost effectiveness.
It was not until the emergence of policy studies in the 1970s that the idea
of the activities of public organizations as the implementers of policy (as
opposed to the managers of organizations) took hold. The first significant
work dealing with implementation as a distinct issue was Jeffrey Pressman
and Aaron Wildavsky’s 1973 book, Implementation: How Great Expectations
in Washington Are Dashed in Oakland. These authors chronicled
a series of failures and implementation problems in the implementation
of a Federal Economic Development Administration project in Oakland,
California, finding that while the program began with good intentions and
a strong commitment, the actual implementation of this large-scale federal
project was very difficult and largely unsuccessful. Their conclusion was that
policy is not automatically translated into action, and that the dynamics of
the implementation process must be understood as a major determinant of
policy outcomes. Pressman and Wildavsky’s work was the launching point
for numerous subsequent works that sought to understand and explain the
implementation process. In fact, six years later Wildavsky, in the preface
to the second edition of their book, commented that implementation had
become a growth industry (1979).
Although considerable attention has been paid to policy implementation
over the past three decades, mapping the boundaries of implementation theory
remains difficult. This confusion is in part due to the fact that implementation
research has continued to overlap with and draw heavily from work in
organizational theory, decision making, organizational change, and intergovernmental
relations. Admitting its rather fuzzy boundaries, implementation
research has become an important and relatively prominent area of inquiry.
In Implementation Theory and Practice: Toward a Third Generation (1990),
Goggin and colleagues divide the development of implementation into first-,
second- and third-generation research. They discuss first-generation research
as the work immediately following Pressman and Wildavsky’s book, work
that succeeded in shifting the focus from how a bill becomes a law to how
a law becomes a program, and demonstrated the complexity, difficulty, and
frequent failures that occur in the implementation process. Second-generation
research is described as focusing on predictors of implementation success
or failure, such as policy form, organizational variables, and the behavior
of individual actors. Third-generation research, which the authors claim has
not been achieved, will be more scientific in that it will clarify key concepts,
specify causal paths and frequency distributions of behavior variations, and
modeling of the process. This typology of three generations of research
provides a useful basis for reviewing the historical evolution of implementation
First Generation
First-generation research on implementation, including the work of Wildavsky
and Pressman, assumed a top-down linear policy process that was
driven by the language of the statute and the intent of elected officials. Topdown
models began with the decisions of policymakers, typically expressed
in statutory language, and worked “down” the policy process. This model
assumed that implementation ought to be a linear process wherein policy
directives are translated into program activities with as little deviation as
possible. It suggests that policymakers are the only important actors and that
organization-level actors serve only to thwart the “correct” implementation
process. First-generation research was largely based on single-site case studies,
and it concentrated on two sources of implementation failure: the content
of the policy and the inability of people and organizations to implement it
precisely. While early first-generation research on implementation laid out
the basics of the study, it was considered methodologically weak as it was
generally atheoretical and case specific.
Within this framework, interest in implementation studies began to build
in the early 1980s. For example, two articles published in Public Administration
Review reported the results of specific implementation cases. First,
Weimer, in his 1980 analysis of the implementation of an automated case
management system, found that three kinds of problems were encountered
in such projects: design and cognition problems, organizational cooperation
problems, and poor data quality. He concluded that technical assistance might
help overcome design and cognition problems.
Second, Menzel studied the implementation of the Federal Surface Mining
Control and Reclamation Act, concentrated on the role of administrative
rule-making and found that statutory deadlines, complex intergovernmental
relationships, and lack of supportive clientele exacerbate implementation
problems (1981). In both of these instances, the research was completely
program-specific; as a result, few general propositions could be produced.
The issue of implementation was also being discussed in the literature
on program evaluation during this time period. Three articles appeared in
Evaluation and Program Planning in 1982 that underscored the importance
of considering what are termed “type III” errors in evaluation. Type III errors
are those errors that occur because of the failure to expose the experimental
group to the independent variable, in other words, when outcomes are mistakenly
attributed to program activities that were never actually implemented.
Rezmovic, for example, examined the results obtained on an experiment
conducted in criminal justice and found that the original, positive results could
not be replicated when experimental and control groups were subdivided
between those that actually received treatment and those that did not (1982).
Similarly, Cook and Dobson concluded that program implementation data
should be included in the analysis of program outcomes (1982). Tornatzky
and Johnson explored the specific issue of how evaluation can be used to
guide implementation efforts and found that evaluation should specify crucial
program elements related to implementation, and could be used as a means
to ensure that planned activities actually take place (1982).
In all these cases, the explicit focus was on the idea that implementation
often goes awry and confounds the intentions of the policymakers. However,
implicit in these findings is an assumption that implementation ought to
be a top-down, linear process wherein policy directives are translated into
program activities with as little deviation as possible.
Second Generation
In second-generation implementation research, the top-down assumption
was turned on its head. In other words, dissatisfaction with the top-down
perspective theorists to develop of a number models that viewed implementation
from the bottom up. Linder and Peters (1986), for example, suggested
that for successful implementation, program design must consider
the needs and values of the implementers. Bottom-up models assume the
existence of a network of actors whose goals, strategies, and actions must
be considered in understanding implementation. In this model, implementing
agencies play a positive, necessary, and appropriate role in redefining
and refocusing legislation in light of organizational-level realities. The
question then becomes, of course, how do you determine success? In
top-down models, success occurs when implementers do not deviate from
politically determined policy. In bottom-up models, the presumption is that
implementers are supposed to exercise discretion and redefine programs
and policies as appropriate.
Next, implementation researchers then sought to meld or integrate these
top-down and bottom-up models. In the integrated model, implementation
is seen as occurring in an interactive, circular policy process. For example,
Nakamura argued that instead of a linear process, implementation activities
were a part of a seamless, interacting whole (1987). Adaptation and discretion
in the implementation process, therefore, was seen as necessary and desirable.
However, legislative leadership was also seen as critical. Likewise, Burke
argued that, depending on institutional factors and the degree of internal or
external control that could be exercised in the process, public policies should
be designed to intentionally allow a range of bureaucratic discretion within
legislatively established parameters (1987). This model explicitly acknowledges
that both policymakers and administrators are actively involved in the
implementation process.
In short, various perspectives on policy implementation emerged. The
top-down model assumes implementation to be a linear process controlled
by policymakers. The bottom-up perspective views control and the exercise
of discretion at the bottom of the bureaucracy to be an appropriate part of
implementation. An integrated view incorporates both the top-down and
bottom-up perspectives by acknowledging the importance of both leadership
from the top and discretion at the bottom.
In addition to debates about the best vantage point from which to view the
implementation process, a significant amount of work focused on establishing
the predictors of implementation success. For example, Van Meter and
Van Horn (1975) argued that in addition to the characteristics of the implementing
organization and the political, social, and economic environment,
the success of policy implementation is influenced by resource availability,
interorganizational communication, as well as the attitude of implementers.
O’Toole and Montjoy (1984) found that, in cases in which the cooperation
of two or more agencies was required for implementation, the type of interdependence
between those agencies is a factor in predicting the likelihood
of implementation.
Third Generation
In the third generation of research, questions increasingly focused on policy
design and policy networks and their implications for how implementation
“success” is most appropriately evaluated. In other words, there was an
increasing recognition that the manner in which programs and policies are
designed determines how, and how successfully, they will be implemented
within a particular policy network.
Unfortunately, implementation is not often considered in policy design.
Scholars increasingly argue that implementation is not a failure if the policy
is poorly designed or not feasible in the first place; in other words, success
must be considered in light of design considerations (Linder and Peters
1987). Dennis Palumbo (1987) claims the problem is that existing research
does not differentiate between implementation failure and problems that
result from poor policy design. He also criticizes the top-down bias that
assumes that the goals and objectives of the policymakers are superior to
those of the street-level implementers as well as the failure to see adaptation
in implementation as necessary and desirable. Moreover, according to
Palumbo, the field of implementation research has an ideological bias that
leads investigators to assume that government can’t do anything right. As a
result, he says, implementation research remains a highly fractured, disjointed
body of knowledge.
On the positive side, however, Palumbo argues that inquiry has given us
a number of important insights that should change how implementation is
understood. Among the most important of these insights is that the tools of
implementation rather than management techniques are critical. This becomes
particularly important in complex policy networks. Cline (2000) suggests
that the implementation process has been defined in two ways: as a problem
of organizational management based on administrative process, or as a
problem of how to elicit cooperation from participants in the implementation
process. He concludes, “Problems of generating cooperation in situations
of conflict of interest are likely to stymie implementation before issues of
organizational management become an obstacle” (2000, 552). In a similar
vein, O’Toole urges scholars to look at the multiple institutional actors in the
implementation process “whose cooperation and perhaps coordination are
needed for implementation success” (2000, 266). In fact, Hall and O’Toole
showed that “the great majority of legislation requires multifactor structures
spanning governments, sectors, and/or agencies” (2000, 667).
One way to view implementation networks is from an intergovernmental
communication perspective. Goggin and colleagues, for example, look at
implementation from an intergovernmental policymaking framework based
on “messages, messengers, channels, and targets operating within a broader
communications system” (Goggin et al., 1990, 33). This communication
system provides political messages with regard to inducements, constraints,
expectations, and exhortations within the intergovernmental framework.
Lynn, Heinrich, and Hill also look at implementation in networked settings:
“public, nonprofit, and proprietary sectors through webs of states,
regions, special districts, service delivery areas, local offices, independent
organizations, collaborative associations, partnerships, or other administrative
entities” (2000, 551). Unlike Goggin, these researchers examine implementation
from a political economy perspective, emphasizing the “logic of
governance.” The logic of governance based on the concepts of political
economy deals with rational choice and consequences of the mechanisms
used by alternative institutional forms to constrain and control behavior. They
argue that the logic of political economy has great utility for understanding
how agencies, programs, and activities can best be organized to achieve
successful outcomes, efficiency, and effectiveness. Again, the focus is on
“better system performance” (551).
Because top-down models have continued to be prevalent, criticisms of
that model of implementation have also continued. Fox (1987) points out that
top-down analysis assumes policymakers’ directives must be literally and
completely followed without deviation, that all program expectations will be
met, and that only intended benefits are valid. As a result, implementation
research tends to arrive at negative findings and concludes that government
can’t do anything right. Similarly, Nakamura (1987) also attacks what he
calls the textbook policy process, which views policy as a linear series of
functionally discrete steps (such as policy formation, implementation, and
evaluation) with a feedback loop at the end. He argues that this is unrealistic
and that these activities are a part of a seamless, interacting whole. He
concludes by urging researchers to develop an alternative, more realistic
model of the process. Love and Sederberg (1987) offer one such possibility.
They suggest that policy can be seen as a theory and implementation as the
attempt to translate theory into action. A number of factors influence how
well this translation works: the theory’s internal consistency, consistency
with conventional wisdom, administrative capacity, and resources and the
political support or momentum available.
While much of the most contemporary literature analyzes implementation
from a policy design perspective, Linder and Peters (1986) caution that a
design perspective taken to its logical extreme would lead to the view that
good policy is that which is most feasible or that which can be most easily
implemented. That is, they say, a misdirection of the policy sciences. What
would be more fruitful, in their view, is to focus on policy imperatives first,
and then consider alternative instruments for their accomplishment. Like
Burke, they urge attention to the normative issues which underlie implementation
and that researchers concentrate on the design of effective and
desirable policy.
In short, moving through various generations of research on implementation,
two trends seem evident. First, there has been a shift away from the
view of policy implementation as a unidirectional, linear process in which
the intent of the elected officials is either followed (successful implementation)
or not (failed implementation). Instead, implementation is increasingly
seen as an interactive, circular process. Second, numerous variables have
been shown to influence the implementation process including individual
actors, human behavioral considerations, organizational factors, institutional
and interinstitutional factors, and policy design. As such, implementation
studies no longer focus exclusively on a single agency as the unit of analysis.
Rather, they look at implementation in the context of policy networks.
Nonetheless, most implementation research has ignored or neglected the
role of direct citizen involvement in implementation. Using the concepts
and questions raised in this review of implementation research, we will now
explore the dominant views of implementation evidenced in the Old Public
Administration and the New Public Management. We will then discuss how
the New Public Service differs from these perspectives, particularly in its
recognition of and emphasis on the importance of citizen involvement in
program implementation.
The Old Public Administration and Implementation
As noted at the beginning of this chapter, in public administration orthodoxy,
there was little differentiation between the administrative process and the
implementation process. Implementation was what public administration was
responsible for. Consequently, while what later came to be termed “implementation”
models did not exist per se, there were a number of implicit assumptions
about the nature of implementation (which was largely equivalent
to efficient and neutral administration) and the best way to achieve it.
The first assumption was, of course, that the process of policy implementation
was top-down, hierarchical, and unidirectional. It was assumed that
policy arrived fully formed at the doorstep of administrative agencies. These
agencies would then put that policy or program in place with little need to
exercise judgment or discretion. In fact, discretion was not acknowledged as
a necessary part of a public administrator’s job. Instead, agencies and their
managers were to apply administrative expertise to control the process so
that policies would be put into place precisely as policymakers had intended.
The job of administrative agencies was to neutrally execute laws passed by
legislative authorities.
Second, because of the influence of scientific management and the emphasis
on formal organizations, the focus was on controlling behavior to
conform to these scientifically derived principles. The task was, then, to
discover the most predictable, regularized, and “correct” procedures and
rules to implement a program, and then to use management techniques and
controls to ensure that people within the organization did what they were
supposed to do. The sole focus was on the management of the organization
and the people who were responsible for providing services and functions
in support of enacted policy. The preeminent value was efficiency: deliver
services at the lowest cost consistent with the law.
The third assumption was that implementation was not part of the policy
process. Administrative processes and policymaking (as prescribed by the
politics/administration dichotomy) were entirely separate. Accordingly, there
was no question about whether a policy was good or bad, “implementable”
or not; it simply was the guiding force behind what administrators were
obligated to do in the most efficient manner possible. Because of these
assumptions, thinking strategically—much less implementing programs
democratically—would have seemed both inappropriate and unnecessary.
The New Public Management and Implementation
It is somewhat difficult to tease out the assumptions regarding the implementation
process that are embedded in the New Public Management. This
is due in part to the fact that the New Public Management doesn’t deal with
“implementation” directly. Rather, public choice theory and the New Public
Management suggests that, in essence, government “get out of the way”
as much as possible to allow market forces and incentives to accomplish
public purposes. As we will explore more fully in this section, advocates of
the New Public Management talk about some of the same mechanisms and
approaches to implementation and citizen involvement found in the literature
on the New Public Service, however, these approaches are based on different
fundamental assumptions and are justified for different reasons. As a result,
although the approaches sound the same in some respects, and even use the
same terminology, implementation in the New Public Management is different
from both the Old Public Administration and the New Public Service.
Two of the primary approaches to implementation applauded by the
New Public Management theorists are privatization and coproduction—in
other words, get implementation out of the hands of bureaucrats and into
a marketlike arena. As noted previously, privatization is a hallmark of the
New Public Management movement. Although Osborne and Gaebler did not
advocate the wholesale privatization of government, they did state that “It
makes sense to put the delivery of many public services in private hands . . .
if by doing so a government can get more effectiveness, efficiency, equity
or accountability” (1992, 47). In a sense then, the view of implementation
advocated by the New Public Management theorists is to remove the implementation
function from bureaucracies as much as possible, and instead
introduce businesslike incentives to ensure that programs are implemented
correctly and efficiently.
While the Old Public Administration sought efficient implementation from
the top down, the New Public Management seeks efficient implementation
literally from the side—from the private sector into the public domain, and
from the bottom—from its customers. Coproduction is the involvement of
citizens in producing and delivering public services. Public choice theorists
Vincent and Elinor Ostrom were among the first to use the term “coproduction”
in their discussion of public goods in relation to institutional arrangements
for service delivery (Ostrom and Ostrom 1971). Ironically, some of
the other early proponents of coproduction (discussed in the section that
follows) advocated the use of citizen involvement to empower communities,
but this idea was quickly overshadowed by the idea of using coproduction
to reduce costs.
This emphasis on cost reduction and deemphasis on empowerment was
expressed by John Alford, who suggested that problems with coproduction
arise when it is too dependent on volunteerism and altruism. “In a climate
where market incentives are the dominant currency, [it] seems far too unreliable
a motivation on which to base important public functions.” The answer
is not to rely on the voluntary efforts of citizens, but to base coproduction
on clients who are analogous to buyers. “While some of the early theoretical
literature mentioned clients or ‘consumer producers’ . . . it usually collapsed
them into ‘citizens’ or slid into the notion of volunteers” (2000, 129). He
goes on to say that, “although no one is seriously suggesting a return to an
emphasis on direct government production,” a more “hard-headed” approach
to coproduction by clients is needed (129).
Alford’s more hard-headed approach is based on the ideals and norms of
the market. He suggests that organizations can provide incentives to clients
to behave in ways that can lower organizational costs. For example, if customers
write postcards in a particular way, it can make mail sorting easier
and reduce costs. If customers can be induced to carry their garbage to the
street, it reduces the costs of garbage collection. One way to accomplish
this is simply to require certain actions by the consumer as a condition of
receiving the service.
Derived as it is from the customer in the private sector market, that model
assumes an exchange, in which the organization provides goods or services
and the customer provides money to the amount of the purchase price.
Aside from the fact that many public sector clients are beneficiaries who
do not pay for the services they receive, client co-production means that the
provision of the service is not simply done by the organization in a one-way
transfer, but rather is partly done by the client. (Alford 2000, 132)
Brudney and England (1983), on the other hand, argue that coproduction
works best to reduce costs and improve performance if it is based on voluntary
cooperation on the part of citizens, and on active rather than passive
behaviors. But the focus remains on coproduction as a cost-saving measure in
response to fiscal constraints: “By supplementing—or perhaps supplanting—the
labors of paid public officials with the service-directed activities of urban
dwellers, coproduction has the potential to raise both the quality and the
efficiency of municipal services” (1983, 959). In other words, in the New
Public Management, citizen involvement concerns “productive behaviors
that can enhance the level and quality of services provided” (Percy 1984,
432, emphasis added).
The New Public Service and Implementation
In the New Public Service, a primary focus of implementation is citizen
engagement and community building. Citizens are not treated as potentially
interfering with “correct” implementation, nor are they used primarily as
vehicles for cost reduction. Instead, citizen engagement is seen as an appropriate
and necessary part of policy implementation in a democracy. Because
discretion is and must be exercised in policy implementation, that discretion
should be informed by citizen participation. Peter deLeon (1999) argues
convincingly, for example, that by placing greater emphasis on democratic,
participative forms of implementation, combined with a more postpositivist
methodology, we will gain a much better understanding of how implementation
can be successful.
In a similar vein, Terry Cooper makes the point that:
The public administrator should be held ethically responsible for encouraging
participation of the citizenry in the process of planning and
providing public goods and services. Participation may or may not be
useful or satisfying to the administrator, but it is essential to the creation
and maintenance of a self-governing political community. (Cooper 1991,
143, emphasis added)
In the New Public Service, citizen involvement is not limited to setting
priorities. In fact, we should manage public organizations so as to enhance
and encourage the engagement of citizens in all facets and phases of the
policymaking and implementation process. Through this process, citizens
“come to see themselves as citizens, . . . rather than as consumers, clients, and
beneficiaries of the administrative state” (Stivers 1990, 96). Citizens become
involved in governance instead of only making demands on government to
satisfy their short-term needs. At the same time, the organization becomes
“a public space in which human beings [citizens and administrators] with
different perspectives . . . act together for the public good” (96). It is this
interaction and engagement with citizens that gives purpose and meaning to
public service. As Frederickson (1997) puts it, it “ennobles” our work.
From the perspective of the New Public Service, mechanisms like coproduction
are derived from the concept of community, not from the concept
of the market. Communities are characterized by social interaction, a sense
of shared place, and common bonds. As explained by Richard Sundeen
(1985), there are three attributes of community—social interaction, shared
territory, and common bonds. “These characteristics contribute to the cohesiveness
and solidarity of the community with social relations among its
members marked by mutual aid, cooperation, and holistic ties—in contrast
to segmented, impersonal ties” (388). In this kind of community, citizens
and public servants have mutual responsibility for identifying problems and
implementing solutions. The absence of these community attributes contributes
to self-interested and impersonal relationships between people. In this
environment, the only way to implement a policy is to offer incentives or
disincentives to modify the choices of self-interested individuals.
Worse, we suggest that this view is self-perpetuating. As people are
treated as self-interested, utility maximizers, they come to see themselves
as consumers of government services, not as members of a community. In
the New Public Management, citizens generate demands and government is
then responsible for producing services to satisfy these demands. The goal
is to meet the demands of citizens so that they will favorably judge the performance
of government. This model leads to an emphasis on performance
measures and productivity indicators to show the citizens that government
is doing its job. The consuming public makes demands on government, and
government sets out to show that it responded. Accordingly, the role of the
citizen/customer is limited to demanding, consuming, and evaluating services
(Sharpe 1980).
Advocates of the New Public Service argue that too little attention is
paid to citizens participating in government decision making and the actual
delivery of services. We suggest that coproduction in a community rests
on mutual trust, cooperation, and shared responsibility. In the New Public
Service, citizens and administrators share responsibility and work together
to implement programs. In the process, citizens learn more about government
and government learns more about citizens. Charles Levine (1984),
for example, speaks directly to this issue, arguing that debates about involving
citizens in the delivery of public services too often focus on narrow
economic and political criteria. Rather than asking how much money will
be saved or how a particular approach will help deal with a contentious political
environment, he suggests that we evaluate alternatives according to
their potential contribution to enhancing citizenship, including: “(1) citizen
trust in government; (2) citizen efficacy; and (3) a shared conception of the
‘common good’” (1984, 284).
With regard to privatization, Levine argues that efficiencies will often
result because of the advantages of choosing between competitive bidders.
However, in the privatization model, the ideal becomes one of government
existing to provide a competitive environment where firms provide services
to consumers with or without a government contract. Such arrangements
do nothing to build citizenship or citizen trust. Rather citizens are viewed
and treated as mere consumers of privatized services behaving just as they
would buying a service from a business. As a result, “the high citizenship of
Pericles, Aristotle, and Rousseau that requires citizens to be active members
of a self-governing community is excused by the advocates of privatization
as irrelevant in an age of rational, self-centered private interests. . . . Publicspirited
action has no place in this scheme” (1984, 285). In short, privatization
cannot lead to better citizens, only the possibility of smarter consumers. In
contrast, coproduction, as Levine understands it, “lays the foundation for a
positive relationship between government and citizens by making citizens
an integral part of the service delivery process” (288).
We may conclude by noting that the difference between the New Public
Management approach to coproduction and that of the New Public Service
is not just a matter of semantics. For example, one of the most widely used
applications of coproduction techniques is in the area of policing. Think for
a minute what a policing program might look like if it were focused only on
cost savings and efficiency—the hallmarks of the New Public Management.
If a police department sought to enhance efficiency and reduce costs, citizens
might, for example, be recruited through a series of incentives or disincentives
to report more crime and/or create neighborhood watch activities to
prevent criminal activities. These alternatives and others would be evaluated
based on the degree to which they reduced the cost of policing services by
involving a set of consumers and engaging their assistance to meet police
objectives. It might be concluded in some cases and for some functions that
privatization is the preferable alternative because of the potential cost savings
that can accrue from private firms’ hiring less-well-trained and lower-paid
security officers. This would also have the advantage of creating competition
among security firms to find new and better ways to deliver police services
at a lower cost. The role of the police department becomes one of creating a
competitive environment. The role of the police officer in relation to coproduction
activities would be to ensure that citizens and neighborhood groups
understand their objectives clearly and absorb as many policing functions as
are practical and cost efficient to reduce and prevent crime. There would be
little need for an ongoing relationship between officers and citizens. In fact,
such efforts would most likely be costly, as they would divert police personnel
from their traditional duties of responding to individual crime calls.
On the other hand, coproduction as derived from the ideals of community
and citizenship as in the New Public Service would look very different. Community
policing, as it is commonly known, generally involves working with
members of the community to develop creative solutions to neighborhood
problems. Community policing is based on “the concept that police officers
and private citizens working together in creative ways can help solve contemporary
community problems” (Trajanowicz et al. 1998, 3). This requires
a change in the relationship between police officers and citizens, empowering
them to set police priorities and involving them in efforts to improve
the quality of life in their neighborhoods. While some of the mechanisms
employed in these efforts might appear similar to those used in cost-cutting
and market-driven strategies, in practice they are different. Neighborhood
watches, for example, would be approached as a vehicle for building community
ties and the relationship between public employees and citizens to
address neighborhood problems. The goal would not be, for example, to
reduce the marginal cost of a police officer’s responding to a call. Rather,
the goal would be to build a stronger community, with citizens who are
involved and empowered to prevent and reduce crime, and who share with
public servants the responsibility for making their communities better. The
role of the public servant becomes one of facilitating and encouraging such
involvement and helping to build the capacity of citizens.

Chapter 7
Recognize that Accountability
Isn’t Simple
Recognize that accountability isn’t simple. Public servants should be
attentive to more than the market; they should also attend to statutory
and constitutional law, community values, political norms, professional
standards, and citizen interests.
The matter of accountability and responsibility in the public service is extremely
complex. Public administrators are and should be held accountable
to a constellation of institutions and standards, including the public interest;
statutory and constitutional law; other agencies; other levels of government;
the media; professional standards; community values and standards;
situational factors; democratic norms; and of course, citizens. Indeed, they
are called upon to be responsive to all the competing norms, values, and
preferences of our complex governance system. These variables represent
overlapping, sometimes contradictory, and ever-evolving points of accountability.
As a result, there are significant challenges involved in “establishing
expectations, verifying performance, maintaining responsiveness of agents,
assessing blame, sorting out responsibilities, determining who the masters
are, and managing under conditions of multiple accountability systems”
(Romzek and Ingraham 2000, 241–42).
The New Public Service recognizes both the centrality of accountability
in democratic governance and the reality of administrative responsibilities.
We reject the idea that simple measures of efficiency or market-based standards
can adequately measure or encourage responsible behavior. Instead,
we argue that accountability in the public sector should be based on the idea
that public administrators can and should serve citizens in the public interest,
even in situations involving complicated value judgments and overlapping
norms. To do so, public administrators must not make these judgments by
themselves. Rather, these issues must be resolved based not only on dialogue
within organizations, but also on citizen empowerment and broad-based civic
engagement. While public servants remain responsible for assuring that solutions
to public problems are consistent with laws, democratic norms, and
other constraints, it is not a matter of their simply judging the appropriateness
of community-generated ideas and proposals after the fact. Rather, it is the
role of public administrators to make these conflicts and parameters known
to citizens so that these realities become a part of the process of discourse.
Doing so not only makes for realistic solutions, it also builds citizenship
and accountability.
While accountability in the public service is unavoidably complex, both
the Old Public Administration and the New Public Management tend to
oversimplify the issue. As will be explored more fully in this chapter, in the
classic version of the Old Public Administration, public administrators were
simply and directly responsible to political officials. At the other end of the
spectrum, in the vernacular of the New Public Management, the focus is on
giving administrators great latitude to act as entrepreneurs. In their entrepreneurial
role, public managers are called to account primarily in terms of
efficiency, cost effectiveness, and responsiveness to market forces.
This chapter considers how our ideas about accountability and responsibility
in public administration have evolved and changed over time. First,
to define some of the key parameters of the issue, we summarize the classic
debate between Carl Friedrich (1940), who argued that professionalism was
the best way to ensure accountability, and Herman Finer (1941), who said
accountability must be based on external controls. Then we look at the notion
of responsibility and the evolution of thought regarding answers to the
three big questions of responsibility and accountability: (1) What are public
administrators responsible for? (2) To whom are they accountable? (3) By
what means should accountability and responsibility be achieved? Finally,
we compare and highlight the implicit and explicit views on accountability
and the approaches they suggest, in the Old Public Administration, the New
Public Management, and the New Public Service.
The Classic Debate
In a sense, the field of public administration was founded on a claim made
by Wilson and others that the question of administrative accountability
could be answered by defining the work of public administrators as objective
and businesslike—and completely separate from politics. The trouble
with accountability, at least intellectually speaking, began anew when the
credibility of the politics/administrative dichotomy began to crumble under
the pressures of increasingly complex governmental functions. If we cannot
explain administrative functions as being largely mechanical and entirely
separate from politics, and administrators aren’t elected, how then do we
hold them responsible? If administrative functions involve discretion, how do
we make sure that discretion is exercised in a responsible manner consistent
with democratic ideals? What, for that matter, is “responsible” administrative
behavior? Finding answers to these questions is as difficult as it is important.
As Frederick Mosher said, “Responsibility may well be the most important
word in all the vocabulary of administration, public and private” (1968, 7).
Questions about how best to secure accountable and responsible administration
encompass some of the most important issues in democratic governance.
In fact, one of the defining principles of democracy is the notion
of controlled, accountable government. As Dwivedi states, “Accountability
is the foundation of any governing process. The effectiveness of that process
depends upon how those in authority account for the manner in which
they have fulfilled their responsibilities, both constitutional and legal. . . .
Consequently, at the very root of democracy lies the requirement for public
responsibility and accountability” (1985, 63–64).
The fundamental parameters of the debate about responsibility and accountability
in the field of public administration were set forth in a wellknown
exchange between Carl Friedrich and Herbert Finer. In 1940, as
America prepared for war, Friedrich wrote in the journal Public Policy that
the key to bureaucratic responsibility was professionalism. Administrative
responsibility involved much more than simply executing preestablished
policy. Policy formulation and execution were, in fact, becoming largely
inseparable. Further, administrators were professionals and possessed specialized
knowledge and technical expertise that the general citizenry did not
have. Because their responsibilities are based on professional knowledge
and norms of conduct, administrators should be accountable to their fellow
professionals to meet commonly agreed-to standards.
It was not, Friedrich said, that being responsive to public sentiment isn’t
important. Rather, the changing nature of administrative responsibility requires
that among technical experts, professionalism, or “craftsmanship” be
a central component of accountability (1940, 191). In making this argument,
he suggested that there are two aspects of this responsibility: personal and
functional. Personal responsibility refers to the administrator’s being able to
justify his or her actions according to orders, recommendations, and so forth.
Functional responsibility involves the administrator’s looking to his or her
function and professional standards for guidance. There was the potential, he
warned, for personal and functional responsibility to conflict. In these cases,
both technical knowledge and hierarchy have to be considered.
Friedrich suggested that there are a number of ways to measure and enforce
accountability, and “only a combination of all of them offers the prospect
of securing the desired results” (1940, 201). But, he said, “officials working
in all the more esoteric fields of government service, the ever more numerous
scientific activities, both national and international, are more sensitive
to and more concerned with the criticism made of their activities by their
professional peers than by any superiors in the organizational they serve”
(201). Ultimately, as government problems had grown increasingly complex
and the need for discretion had expanded, professionalism had become the
cornerstone of administrative responsibility.
Herman Finer (1941), from the University of London, disagreed. Writing
in response to Friedrich, he said that external controls were the best and
only means of ensuring administrative accountability in a democracy. He
argued that administrators should be subordinate to elected officials because
elected officials are directly responsible to the people. These officials, based
on their interpretation of the public’s wants, should tell the administrator
what to do. Then the administrator was responsible for carrying out those
duties according to those directions. In making this argument, Finer defined
responsibility in two ways. The first definition is that “X is accountable for
Y to Z.” The second (and according to Finer, the wrong-headed) definition
involves “a personal sense of moral obligation.” He stated, “The second
definition puts emphasis on the conscience of the agent, and it follows from
the definition that if he commits an error it is an error only when recognized
by his own conscience, and that punishment of the agent will be merely
the twinges thereof. The one implies public execution; the other hara-kiri”
(1941, 336).
Finer argued instead that technical feasibility and knowledge must always
be secondary to democratic controls, controls based on three doctrines or
ideas. First, he referred to the “mastership of the public,” suggesting that
public servants don’t work for the good of the public based on their sense
of what the public needs, but rather what the public says it wants (1941,
337). The second idea is that institutions must be in place, most particularly
an elected body, to express and exert the public authority. Most important,
however, is the third idea: that these elected institutions not only express
and channel public wants, but also have the authority to decide and enforce
how these wants are to be satisfied.
In this process, if external controls are lacking, abuses of power are ineviTHE
table. Finer dismissed Friedrich’s argument that administrators’ responsibility
was more of a moral than a political issue, and that adherence to the standards
of their profession was the answer. He further stated that Friedrich “gives
the impression of stepping over the dead body of political responsibility to
grasp the promissory incandescence of the moral variety” of responsibility
(1941, 339). Finer concluded that:
Moral responsibility is likely to operate in direct proportion to the strictness
and efficiency of political responsibility, and to fall away into all
sorts of perversions when the latter is weakly enforced. While professional
standards, duty to the public, and pursuit of technological efficiency are
factors in sound administrative operations, they are but ingredients, and not
continuously motivating factors, of sound policy, and they require public
and political control and direction. (Finer 1941, 350)
Over the years, Friedrich reaffirmed his position, calling Finer a “pious
myth-maker” whose views were unrealistic and outdated (1960). He argued
that Finer’s views on accountability would not work unless there was clear
agreement as to what needed to be done and little or no need for administrative
discretion. “When one considers the complexity of modern governmental
activities, it is at once evident that such agreement can only be partial and
incomplete, no matter who is involved” (3–4). He pointed out that administrative
responsibility is more than trying to “keep the government from
doing wrong” (4). Rather, the main concern ought to be to ensure effective
administrative action. To do this, he said, the interdependencies between the
realms of policymaking and policy execution had to be considered. “In so
far as particular individuals or groups are gaining or losing power or control
in a given area, there is politics; in so far as officials act or propose action in
the name of public interest, there is administration” (6).
Friedrich once again criticized Finer’s contention that external controls
must be the basis for ensuring accountability. While political controls are
important, “there is arising a type of responsibility on the part of the permanent
administrator, the man who is called upon to seek and find the creative
solutions for our crying technical needs, which cannot be effectively
enforced except by fellow-technicians who are capable of judging his policy
in terms of the scientific knowledge bearing upon it” (1960, 14). Besides,
external mechanisms of control and measures of accountability “represent
approximations, and not very near approximations at that” (14). In other
words, unless there is a set of standards based on professional and technical
knowledge that administrators internalize and hold each other accountable
to, responsibility cannot be achieved. Friedrich concluded that:
Responsible conduct of administrative functions is not so much enforced
as it is elicited. But it has been the contention all along that responsible
conduct is never strictly enforceable, that even under the most tyrannical
despot administrative officials will escape effective control–in short, that
the problem of how to bring about responsible conduct of the administrative
staff of a large organization is, particularly in a democratic society, very
largely a question of sound work rules and effective morale. (Friedrich
1960, 19)
In simplest form, Friedrich claims that administrators have to use their
technical and professional knowledge in order to be responsible. Therefore,
for a public administrator, being accountable means not only following the
law and doing what you are told to do by elected officials, but also using the
expertise of your profession.
The debate between Friedrich and Finer raised several key questions that
remain at the center of contemporary issues regarding democratic accountability.
As Dunn and Legge state, “The concepts and methods that define
accountability and responsibility constitute fundamental issues in democratic
theory because they determine how public policy and administration remain
responsive to public preferences” (2000, 74). It is apparent that Friedrich
and Finer held very different views of the way in which the policy process
ought to work. Friedrich accepted the need for administrative discretion.
Finer, on the other hand, wanted to limit it as much as possible. Perhaps most
fundamentally, their positions are staked on the rather unsteady foundation
of the politics/administratve dichotomy: In what manner are the forces of
democracy to be balanced with the structure of bureaucracy and professional
expertise? What institution or institutions are best suited to articulate public
needs and wants? Can the work of administrators be made predictable and
objective, and therefore controllable by means of preset measures? Or is it
inherently subjective and too complex to reduce to a set of preconceived
standards? Is it both? These are questions that have continued to plague efforts
to encourage and enforce accountability in the public service, and are
not likely to be definitively resolved anytime soon.
Administrative Responsibility: To Whom for What?
The exchange between Friedrich and Finer crystallized some of the key issues
with regard to administrative accountability in the democratic process.
Not too surprisingly, since that time, most administrators and writers in the
field have located themselves somewhere in the middle of the controversy,
saying that administrative accountability requires both external controls
and professionalism. As Marshall Dimock and Gladys Dimock expressed
it, accountability is a legal and moral issue that is enforced both internally
and externally:
To be accountable means to act responsibly, that is, in accordance with
predetermined standards of propriety. For the public administrator, however,
accountability is more than a matter of manners and custom; it is a
matter of law. To be accountable also describes a person on whom one
can count. For the administrator, this means knowing his duty and doing
it—being honest and acting with probity. Thus the combined modern
meaning of accountability is duty, both legal and moral. (Dimock and
Dimock 1969, 123)
Accountability in public administration is achieved by both internal and
external means. Internal controls are those that are established and enforced
within an agency when “the administrator himself or someone alongside or
above him in the hierarchy sees that he does his duty” (Dimock and Dimock
1969, 123). External controls may involve legislative supervision; budget
and audit activities; the use of an office such as an ombudsman criticism
from the press; and oversight by consumer groups, interest groups, and other
concerned individuals.
Unfortunately, despite the appeal of this more balanced view, it does
not “solve” the issue of accountability, nor does it tell us exactly what to
do about it. As a result, questions about accountability have continued to
revolve around a set of tensions in the field of public administration that
can be expressed in three deceptively simple questions: (1) What are we
responsible for? (2) To whom are we responsible? and (3) How is that responsibility
best ensured? Depending on how these questions are answered, and
in what order of importance, different perspectives on the most appropriate
systems of administrative accountability are suggested. Most problematic
is usually the last question: We can set forth propositions about what we are
responsible for and to whom, but figuring out how to ensure accountability
is not an easy proposition.
For example, Maass and Radaway (1959) clearly state their positions
(which they called “working biases”) on the first two questions. In fact, they
largely dismiss the first question (responsible for what?) in one sentence,
stating that administrative agencies should be responsible for formulating
as well as executing policy. With regard to the second question (to whom
are administrators responsible?), their answers are somewhat more qualified.
They begin by saying that administrators should not be held directly
responsible to the public at large or to political parties. But administrative
agencies should be responsible to pressure groups in order to allow them
sufficient access and information to safeguard their interests. The primary
responsibility of administrators is “to the legislature, but only through the
chief executive, and primarily for broad issues of public policy and general
administrative performance” (1959, 169), leading back to the question of for
what they are responsible. Maass and Radaway suggest that administrators
are responsible for conforming to the general program of the chief executive
and coordinating activities with other executive branch agencies to carry
out that program. Further, they should be “responsible for maintaining,
developing, and applying such professional standards as may be relevant
to its activities” (176).
With these answers in hand, Maass and Radaway turn to the question of
how accountability is to be achieved under these circumstances. Because
the basic principles of administrative responsibility are often equivocal and
mutually incompatible, the question of how to ensure accountability cannot
be answered generically. They suggest, therefore, that it is necessary to use
the more practical and modest language of “criteria” of responsibility. Some
of these criteria may conflict with others, “but all of which must be weighted
and applied together in any attempt to gauge the responsibility of a specific
administrative agency” (1959, 163). There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
As we said at the beginning of this chapter, accountability is complex. In
the words of Maass and Radaway:
[A]dministrative responsibility . . . has been termed the sum total of
the constitutional, statutory, administrative, judicial, and professional
practices by which public officers are restrained and controlled in
their official actions. But it is not possible to identify the criteria for
gauging administrative responsibility by relying on such general language.
It becomes necessary, therefore, to relate the general concept
of responsibility to the specific functions of power (i.e., responsibility
to whom?) and purpose (i.e., responsibility for what?). (Maass and
Radaway 1959, 164)
One answer, then, would be to make sure that accountability and responsibility
(or authority) were always in balance in a given circumstance. In
other words, an administrator would only be held responsible for those things
for which he or she had authority and responsibility. But there are potential
problems with this as well. Herbert Spiro, in Responsibility in Government
(1969), points out that such a proposition is not very practical and raises
questions that inevitably lead to confusion. Even the word “responsibility”
itself has multiple definitions and uses, and it is used more often than it is
defined. This lack of definitional clarity, he says, contributes to the controversy
and confusion.
His argument is that there are three different connotations used when addressing
responsibility: accountability, cause, and obligation. Like several
other authors, but using different terms, Spiro argues that accountability
can be either explicit or implicit. Explicit accountability refers to having to
answer and account for how an administrator carries out his or her official
tasks. But, he says, “All of us are implicitly accountable to the extent that
we may be unexpectedly affected by the consequences of decisions made
by other human beings” (1969, 15). In other words, people can be held implicitly
responsible for outcomes that they did not directly cause. Explicit
causal responsibility, on the other hand, “consists of four elements, present
in varying degrees under different circumstances: resources, knowledge,
choice, and purpose” (16). Implicit causal responsibility occurs when one
or more of these elements is lacking.
Discussions about responsibility that confuse accountability with causal
responsibility, or that assume that responsibility and accountability are in
balance are bound to be unrealistic. “As a matter of fact, this is simply not
so. As a matter of value, however, advocacy of a fair balance between causal
responsibility and accountability is quite possible (Spiro 1969, 17). But a
reasonable imbalance is not necessarily a bad thing, according to Spiro. If
the function of responsibility is to preserve social conscience, then it might
be appropriate that someone is held accountable for an event that he or she
did not directly, or solely cause. On the other hand, Spiro writes:
From the viewpoint of constitutional democracy, however, we would have to
advocate a fair balance between these two faces of responsibility, between
accountability and causal responsibility. We would not want to hold a person
accountable for an event to which he made no causal contribution. . . . We
would want him to be in a sound situation of responsibility, in which causal
responsibility stands in fair balance with accountability. (Spiro 1969, 18)
Under these circumstances, figuring out how to ensure responsibility
is difficult. The issue is not whether we want public administrators to be
responsible—we do. The more important issue is how to ensure accountability,
an issue that goes directly back to the Friedrich-Finer debate. If accountability
mechanisms focus on the constitutional and legal framework
alone, and do not take into account other sources of knowledge and resources,
the purpose becomes one of negatively restraining bureaucrats. If we take
a broader approach, accountability can have the more positive purpose of
enhancing responsibility across the public sphere. Spiro states:
We must give up excessive preoccupation with the bureaucrat’s situation in
favor of the individual citizen’s. This is true especially because bureaucrat
and citizen are no longer opposites who face each other in attitudes of
constant hostility. Moreover, the bureaucrat is also a citizen. By virtue of assuming
his delegated, specific, additional responsibility and accountability
qua bureaucrat, he does not surrender his original, general responsibility
qua citizen. His situation as a citizen, and that of his fellow citizens, must
be the main center of our attention.” (Spiro 1969, 101)
From this perspective, then, the focus should be on the character and ethics
of the individual administrator. Some have suggested, in fact, that at its core,
accountability is a question of ethics, and that the role of administrator should
be reconceived as an ethical actor. As Dwivedi states, “Unethical administration
is the antithesis of accountable administration” (1985, 65). The work of
Terry Cooper exemplifies the thinking of those who would focus on ethics
as the basis for accountable and responsible administrative action. In The
Responsible Administrator (1998), Cooper examines the ethical decisionmaking
process and proposes a model for addressing ethical problems. Like
several other writers, Cooper discusses the objective (external) and subjective
(internal) natures of responsibility. He argues that the problems that arise
when there is conflict between these two forms of responsibility are fundamentally
ethical in nature. Ethical conduct, Cooper suggests, is enhanced
by both internal and external controls. This is so, he says, because there are
four components of responsible conduct: individual attributes, organizational
culture, organizational structure, and societal expectations. Individual ethical
behavior, he argues, requires individual ethical autonomy and self-awareness
as well as limits to the reach and power of organizations.
What can we conclude from all this? We can suggest that several generations
of scholars have determined that administrative accountability
is difficult to define and even more difficult to enforce. This is in part a
function of the complexity of the administrative process as a component
of the larger system of governance. The result is the complex web of accountability
mechanisms and systems that characterize the current American
governmental system. Romzek and Ingraham (2000) provide a useful
framework for understanding these multiple perspectives on accountability.
They suggest that there are four primary types of accountability based on
whether they are internal or external, and whether they assume high or low
levels of individual autonomy. The first type is hierarchical accountability,
which is “based on close supervision of individuals who have low work autonomy.”
Second, legal accountability involves “detailed external oversight
of performance for compliance with established mandates . . . such as legTHE
islative and constitutional structures.” This would include fiscal audits and
oversight hearings, for example. Third, professional accountability is based
on “arrangements that afford high degrees of autonomy to individuals who
based their decision making on internalized norms of appropriate practice.”
Finally, political accountability requires responsiveness to “key external
stakeholders, such as elected officials, clientele groups, the general public,
and so on” (2000, 242).
Romzek and Ingraham point out that while all of these types of accountability
relationships are present, some forms may become more dominant
while others may become largely dormant in a given circumstance. In times
of reform, they say, “there is often a shift in emphasis and priority among
the different types of accountability” (2000, 242). In the sections that follow,
we will discuss the assumptions about and forms of accountability that
can be seen as dominant in the Old Public Administration, the New Public
Management, and the New Public Service.
The Old Public Administration and Accountability
A formal, hierarchical, and legal view of accountability characterizes the
Old Public Administration and remains, in some ways, the most familiar
model for viewing administrative responsibility and accountability today.
This view of accountability relies on the assumption that administrators
do not and should not exercise significant amounts of discretion. Rather,
they simply implement the laws, rules, and standards set forth for them by
hierarchical superiors, elected officials, and the courts. Accountability, according
to adherents of the Old Public Administration, focuses on ensuring
that administrators adhere to standards and conform to rules and procedures
established for them in carrying out their functions. It is not a matter of using
discretion appropriately and responsibly, it is a matter of avoiding the
use of discretion by closely adhering to the law, regulation, organizational
procedures, and directives of the supervisor.
In this view, direct responsiveness or accountability to the public was,
implicitly at least, seen as unnecessary and inappropriate. Elected officials
were seen as solely responsible and accountable for translating the public
will into policy. As Goodnow presented it, “Politics has to do with the guiding
or influencing of governmental policy, while administration has to do
with the execution of that policy” (1987, 28). The public had little or no
direct role in the administrative or policy execution process. Wilson, in fact,
seemed to want to buffer the governing process from popular interests, thus
preventing the people from becoming “meddlesome” by direct involvement.
In the Old Public Administration, responsible administrators were those who
possessed and relied on their expertise and “neutral competence.” Accordingly,
responsible administrative action was based on scientific, value-neutral
It is not difficult to see the continued influence of this perspective in
present-day, institutionalized accountability systems. A quick review of
the topics included in Rosen’s (1989) edition of Holding Government Bureaucracies
Accountable, for example, presents a broad array of processes,
institutions, and mechanisms for ensuring formal accountability. Within the
executive branch, hierarchical supervision, the budget and audit process,
performance evaluations systems, and oversight by staff agencies such
as personnel and purchasing departments are used to hold the actions of
administrators in check and to ensure compliance with laws, procedures,
and regulations. The legislative branch also uses a range of accountability
mechanisms, including the appropriations process, committee oversight,
hearings and investigations, reporting requirements, and legislative audit.
The courts also employ a number of administrative controls, through judicial
review and case law, as well as their oversight and interpretation of the
Administrative Procedure Act of 1946 (which governs the procedures and
process which executive agencies must use in establishing and applying
governmental regulations). Most of these approaches rely, to a greater or
lesser degree, on formal, external notions of accountability—that is, that
administrators are responsible for adhering to objective external controls
and answering for their actions in relation to established standards and the
preferences of key stakeholders.
The New Public Management and Accountability
In a sense, the views of accountability advocated by the adherents of the New
Public Management echo those of the Old Public Administration in that there
is a continued reliance on objective measurement and external controls. There
are important differences, however. First, in the New Public Management, the
assumption is that traditional bureaucracy is ineffective because it measures
and controls inputs rather than results. As Osborne and Gaebler state, “Because
they don’t measure results, bureaucratic governments rarely achieve them”
(1992, 139). Controlling inputs, such as money and personnel, rather than
results, such as the cleanliness of streets or the knowledge gained by children,
leads to government failure. Osborne and Gaebler argue that the answer is to
look to the business model: “Private organizations focus on results because
they will go out of business if the key numbers go negative” (139).
Again, as with the New Public Management generally, the assumption is
that business and the market model are superior and ought to be emulated
in the public sector. Since government agencies cannot go out of business
when they do not produce results, performance measurement must be used
as a surrogate measure for what in business is the bottom line—profit. The
focus of accountability is, then, on meeting performance standards to produce
Second, the public is reconceptualized as a market made up of individual
customers who each act in a manner to serve their self-interest. In this way,
public agencies are not primarily accountable, either directly or indirectly, to
citizens or to the public or common good. Rather, they are accountable to their
“customers.” The responsibility of government then is to offer choices to their
customers and to respond to their expressed individual preferences in terms of
the services and functions provided. Accountability is a matter of satisfying
the preferences of the direct customers of governmental services.
The third difference in the dominant view on administrative accountability
suggested in the New Public Management perspective is the reliance on
privatization. There is a strong emphasis in the New Public Management on
privatizing previously public functions whenever possible. Again, this shifts
accountability from a public to a private perspective, focusing again on the
bottom line. As such, accountability systems in privatized government emphasize
the provision of services and functions that produce desired results in
the most cost-effective manner possible while satisfying their customers.
The New Public Service and Accountability
Perspectives on accountability in the New Public Service stand in contrast
to both the Old Public Administration and the New Public Management.
Measures of efficiency and results are important, but they cannot address or
encompass the other expectations we hold for public administrators to act
responsibly, ethically, and in accordance with democratic principles and the
public interest. In the New Public Service, the ideals of citizenship and the
public interest are at center stage.
Accountability in the New Public Service is multifaceted and demanding
in recognition of the complex roles played by public administrators in
contemporary governance. The New Public Management artificially oversimplifies
the issue of accountability in several ways. Kettl expresses it even
more strongly: that the pursuit of businesslike practices and market-driven
reforms constitutes an “aggressive attack on the tradition of democratic accountability”
(1998, v). First, privatization and attempts to mimic the private
sector narrow the scope of accountability and place the focus on meeting
standards and satisfying customers. Such approaches do not reflect the multiple,
overlapping channels of accountability in the public sector because the
standards in the private sector are simply less stringent (Mulgan 2000). A
private company being responsible to its shareholders is not analogous to a
government agency being responsive to its citizens. While private companies
are invariably and primarily accountable for producing a profit, the public
sector must pay more attention to process and policy. In government, “The
emphasis is on the accountability of public power, on how to make governments,
their agencies and officials, more accountable to their ultimate owners,
the citizens” (Mulgan 2000, 87).
Glen Cope (1997) also makes important observations in this regard. She
suggests that there are a number of reasons that responsiveness to citizens
is different than responsiveness to customers. In order to be responsive to
customers, private enterprise attempts to provide a product or service that is
desirable and of acceptable quality, as inexpensively as possible. Customers
don’t have to like the product or buy it unless they choose to do so. The
serving of customers is driven by the profit motive: Enough customers have
to be satisfied so they will buy the product or service at the designated price.
Response to citizens, on the other hand, is distinctly different. Government
should provide a service or product that the majority of citizens want. Since
buying the product or service is not voluntary in that it is often paid for by
tax revenues, “This creates a special responsibility for government not only
to satisfy its immediate customers and operate in a cost-efficient manner, but
also to deliver services that its citizens have requested” (1997, 464).
Second, the New Public Management does not place an appropriate degree
of emphasis on public law and democratic norms. Public accountability is
lessened when governmental services are performed by nonprofit or private
organizations that are not bound by public law principles (Leazes 1997). As
Gilmore and Jensen suggest, “Because private actors are not subject to the
same constitutional, statutory, and oversight restrictions as governmental
actors, delegation of public functions outside the bounds of government
profoundly challenges traditional notions of accountability, making it all
the more difficult . . .” (1998, 248).
In the New Public Service, if private administrators are to function as
public ones, they should become subject to public standards of accountability.
Based on his examination of a state’s child welfare program, Leazes
concludes that, “Efficiency and effectiveness alone are not the only public
administration standards available to measure the success of privatization.
The accountability inherent in public law that relates to the safeguarding of
democratic, constitutional administration should have an equal place at the
privatization policy-implementation table” (1997, 10). Typically, however,
they cannot and do not.
The focus on results or outcomes popularized by advocates of the New
Public Management does not satisfy the need for accountability to democratic
norms and values either. As Myers and Lacey state, “The performance of
civil servants should be judged . . . according to the extent to which they
uphold such values, just as much, if not more than, on their success at meeting
output targets” (1996, 343). That is not to say that attention to results and
output measures isn’t important. By focusing on results, public organizations
can make important improvements to the benefit of the people they serve.
But it does suggest that results-oriented performance measures ought to be
developed based on an open public process; they should not be developed
and imposed by those in government simply to mimic measures of profit.
Third, in the New Public Management, the public administrator is
conceived of as an entrepreneur, seeking opportunities to create private
partnerships and serve customers. This perspective on the role of the public
administrator is narrow, and is poorly suited to achieve democratic principles
such as fairness, justice, participation, and the articulation of shared
interests. The very qualities that make an administrator a good entrepreneur
may in fact make him or her an ineffective public servant. Cooper states,
“The attributes associated with effective administration and management
in the business world, such as competitiveness and profit orientation, may
be unsuited to, or less appropriate to, the interests of democratic political
society” (1998, 149). In fact, he points out, if concern for efficiency is given
more than secondary importance, the openness to popular sovereignty may
well be compromised.
The New Public Service rejects all three of these assumptions about accountability
advanced by the New Public Management. The complexity of
public accountability faced by public servants is recognized as a challenge, an
opportunity, and a calling. It requires expertise, a commitment to democratic
ideals, a knowledge of public law, and judgment informed by experience,
community norms, and ethical conduct. Accountability in the New Public
Service suggests a reconceptualization of the role of the public servant as
leader, steward, and emissary of the public interest, not as an entrepreneur.
As Kevin Kearns states, despite “the fact that accountability is an untidy
construct . . . debates on accountability should be informed by its poor structure,
not deterred by it. To this end, any truly meaningful dialogue should
be guided by an analytical framework that embraces the many dimensions
of accountability and allows contextual factors and subjective judgments to
surface for informed dialogue on assumptions” (1994, 187).
Legal, constitutional, and democratic principles are an incontrovertible
centerpiece of responsible administrative action. The New Public Service
differs from both the Old Public Administration and the New Public Management
in its emphasis on elevating the importance and centrality of citizenship
and the public as the basis for accountable and responsible public action. Put
simply, the source of public administrators’ authority is the citizenry. “Public
Administrators are employed to exercise that authority on their behalf. They
do so as one of citizenry; they can never divest themselves of their own status
as members of the political community with obligations for its well being”
(Cooper 1991, 145). Accountability requires that public servants interact
with and listen to citizens in a manner that empowers and reinforces their
role in democratic governance. As N. Joseph Cayer states, “The purpose of
citizen participation is generally to make administration more responsive
to the public and to enhance the legitimacy of governmental programs and
agencies” (1986, 171). Responsible behavior requires that public administrators
interact with their fellow citizens, not as customers but as members of
a democratic community.
In Bureaucratic Responsibility (1986), John Burke says that in light of the
problems with accountability, and of inherent tensions between the values of
bureaucracy and democracy, our attention should focus on “how bureaucratic
officials conceive of their roles, duties, and obligations and especially what
principles might guide them in a more responsible, accountable direction”
(1986, 5). He suggests that a “democratically grounded conception of responsibility”
is “derived not just from formal rules, regulations, and laws
but from a broader understanding of the bureaucrat’s place within a more
encompassing set of political institutions and processes” (39).
There are two major components of this model of democratic responsibility.
The first is a public servant’s responsibility to take political authority
seriously. The second involves a set of responsibilities that hinge on obligations
with respect to the duties of others as well as the role of the responsible
public servants in policy formulation and implementation. This democratic
model, Burke argues, “attempts to reconcile the potentially conflicting allegiances
owed politics and the profession by demarcating a domain within
which expertise is granted license and autonomy” (1986, 149).
Importantly, Burke argues that the multiple views of moral obligation,
responsibility, and their political relevance cannot be resolved based on an
administrator’s own sense of what is right. Rather, such judgments must be
made as part of a participatory process. Burke states:
Not only do the specific obligations posited by a democratic conception
of responsibility enhance participatory processes and outcomes, but the
general sense of responsibility it fosters—especially its democratic source
and character—facilitates the goals of participation. It embodies an implicit
ethos of taking democracy seriously, whether its structure is formal or
informal, centralized or decentralized. (Burke 1986, 214)
This viewpoint is also exemplified by Edward Weber’s (1999) discussion
of the grass-roots ecosystem management (GREM) model, which looks at
administrative accountability “in a world of decentralized governance, shared
power, collaborative decision processes, results-oriented management, and
broad civic participation” (1999, 451). The GREM model looks at political
responsiveness, administrative performance, and a normative dimension when
assessing accountability. While Weber is speaking directly to the issue of
accountability and responsiveness, his arguments also apply to the question
of how we view and evaluate the administrative discretion exercised in policy
implementation. He challenges the view that responsiveness is “a one way
street” emanating from elected officials, suggesting instead that responsiveness
and accountability are “a matter of both top-down policy commands
from political and administrative superiors and bottom-up input from community-
based stakeholders as well as others” (454–55). Although the model
gives weight to bottom-up participation, legal and hierarchical accountability
are also important. He is suggesting, in essence, a holistic policy focus that
provides for adaptive management and citizen involvement.
In the New Public Service, accountability is broadly defined to encompass a
range of professional, legal, political, and democratic responsibilities. But “The
ultimate aim of accountability and responsibility mechanisms in democratic
policies is to assure responsiveness by government to citizens’ preferences
and needs” (Dunn and Legge 2000, 75). This accountability and responsibility
is best achieved by a public service that acknowledges and responds to the
multiple and conflicting norms and factors that can and should influence an
administrator’s actions. The key to balancing these factors in a responsible
and democratically accountable fashion rests with citizen engagement, empowerment,
and dialogue. Public administrators are neither neutral experts
nor business entrepreneurs. They are called upon to be responsible actors in a
complex governance system, in which they may play the roles of facilitators;
reformers; interest brokers; public relations experts; crisis managers; brokers;
analysts; advocates; and most importantly, moral leaders and stewards of the
public interest (Vinzant and Crothers 1998; Terry 1995).
If public functions are privatized, or “reinvented” so as to mirror private
sector corporations, democratic values become less important. Instead, the
focus is placed on market efficiency and the achievement of the governmental
“bottom line.” Particularly when privatization involves functions that are
vital to the public interest (such as medical care, welfare, or education), the
relationship between government and citizen becomes more complex than
merely the provision of a service to a customer. Accordingly, more than
market-driven measures of efficiency are required to hold the government
accountable (Gilmore and Jensen 1998). In the private sector, financial incen136
tives and shareholder preferences guide an administrator’s behavior. When
public functions are either given over to the private sector or reconfigured to
mimic in the private model, public accountability for equity, citizen access,
and the constitutional and statutory rights of citizens are almost by definition
compromised, if not lost. As Shamsul Haque states, “The hallmark of public
bureaucracy is its accountability to the public for its policies and actions.
Without the realization of such accountability, public bureaucracy loses its
identity of publicness, surrenders its public legitimacy, and may relegate
itself to the fetish of self-seeking private interests” (1994, 265).
As Michael Harmon (1995) puts it, responsibility remains a paradox. The
paradox is that the nature of responsibility upholds two contrasting ideas:
moral accountability versus answerability to an organization. He argues that
conceptions of responsibility that rely on the concepts of agency (acting
on behalf of), accountability, and obligation do not take into account the
element of morality. Because of this lack of emphasis on morality, three
paradoxes arise: the paradox of obligation, the paradox of blame, and the
paradox of accountability. The paradox of obligation suggests that if “public
servants are free to choose but at the same time are obliged to act only as
others authoritatively choose for them, then they are not, for all practical
purposes, free. If on the other hand, public servants do choose freely, their
actions may violate authoritative obligations, in which case, their exercise
of free choice is irresponsible” (1995, 102). The paradox of agency occurs
when taking personal responsibility for acting as a moral agent conflicts with
answerability to others. Conversely, “the claim of moral innocence implied
in the assertion of ultimate answerability to others can only be achieved
by the individual’s denial of agency” (128). The paradox of accountability,
Harmon says, is that, when
public servants are accountable solely for the effective achievement of
purposes mandated by political authority, then as mere instruments of
that authority they bear no personal responsibility as moral agents for the
products of their actions. If, on the other hand, public servants actively
participate in determining public purposes, their accountability is compromised
and political authority is undermined. (Harmon 1995, 164)
Harmon concludes, “the rational reform of government institutions is no
substitute for, and in fact may well prevent, strengthening the communal
bonds that form the substance of the institutions themselves” (1995, 207).
In other words, public servants are rightly called upon to be accountable,
answerable, responsible, and moral; to choose any one of these qualities to
the exclusion of the others places democratic government at risk. Despite the
inherent tensions, and difficulty, if not impossibility, of perfectly and fully
satisfying each facet of accountability in every circumstance, that is what we,
as a society, demand of our public servants. Fortunately, with courage and
professionalism, they are doing so every day in communities across America.
It is our responsibility as a field to acknowledge the difficulty of their jobs,
prepare them, applaud their successes, and advance the democratic values
that surround what they do.
The question of accountability in the public service is a complex one, involving
balancing competing norms and responsibilities within a complicated
web of external controls; professional standards; citizen preferences; moral
issues; public law; and ultimately, the public interest. Or as Robert Behn
puts it, “To whom must public managers be accountable? The answer is
‘everyone’” (2001, 120). In other words, public administrators are called
upon to be responsive to all the competing norms, values, and preferences
of our complex governance system. Accountability is not, and cannot be
made, simple. The tensions and paradoxes that Harmon and others identify
are irreducible and unavoidable in our democratic system of governance.
It is a mistake, in our estimation, to oversimplify the nature of democratic
accountability by focusing only on a narrow set of performance measures
or by attempting to mimic market forces—or, worse, by simply hiding
behind notions of neutral expertise. To do so calls into question the nature
of democracy, and the role of citizenship and a public service dedicated to
serving citizens in the public interest. The New Public Service recognizes
that being a public servant is a demanding, challenging, sometimes heroic
endeavor involving accountability to others, adherence to the law, morality,
judgment, and responsibility.

Chapter 8
Serve Rather than Steer
Serve rather than steer. It is increasingly important for public servants to
use shared, value-based leadership in helping citizens articulate and meet
their shared interests rather than attempting to control or steer society in
new directions.
We noted in Chapter 5 that public policy is increasingly being made through
the interaction of many different groups and organizations, overlapping and
often competing in their interests and jurisdictions and engaged in efforts to
meet both individual and collective goals through an open-ended, fluid, and
often chaotic process. We also noted some of the ways in which citizens’
views can be brought to bear on that process of building public policy in
a democratic fashion. Here we will focus more on the way in which various
groups and interests can be brought together in a collaborative manner
to achieve mutually satisfactory ends. More particularly, we will ask how
leadership can be brought to bear where “no one is in charge.” Under those
circumstances, in which there is little evidence of formal or traditional leadership,
there may seem to be a vacuum of leadership—at least if we think
of leadership primarily as the exercise of power over others. Leadership is
still needed; in fact, leadership is needed more than ever. What is needed,
however, is leadership of a new kind.
Changing Perspectives on Leadership
Certainly there is agreement that the traditional top-down models of leadership
we associate with such groups as the military are outdated and unwork140
able in modern society. This is an idea, in fact, that is even accepted in the
military. As we have seen, today’s society can be described as (1) highly
turbulent, subject to sudden and dramatic shifts; (2) highly interdependent,
requiring cooperation across many sectors; and (3) greatly in need of creative
and imaginative solutions to the problems facing us. Under these conditions,
public (and private) organizations need to be considerably more adaptable
and flexible than in the past. Yet the traditional command and control form
of leadership doesn’t encourage risk and innovation. Quite to the contrary,
it encourages uniformity and convention. For this reason, many people now
argue that a new approach to leadership is desirable.
Leadership is changing in many ways, and we should be attentive to those
changes. First, in today’s world and certainly in tomorrow’s, more and more
people are going to want to participate in the decisions that affect them. In
the traditional top-down model of organizational leadership, the leader was the
one who established the vision of the group, designed ways of achieving that
vision, and inspired or coerced others into helping to realize that vision. But
increasingly those in organizations want to be involved; they want a piece of the
action. Moreover, clients or citizens also want to participate, as they should. As
Warren Bennis correctly predicted a few years ago, “leadership . . . will become
an increasingly intricate process of multilateral brokerage. . . . More and more
decisions will be public decisions, that is, the people they affect will insist on
being heard” (1992, 311).
Second, leadership is increasingly being thought of not as a position in a
hierarchy, but as a process that occurs throughout organizations (and beyond).
In the past, a leader was considered the person who held a formal position
of power in an organization or a society. Increasingly, however, we are coming
to think of leadership as a process occurring throughout organizations
and societies. Leadership is not just something reserved for the presidents,
governors, mayors, or department heads; rather, it is something that everyone
throughout our organizations and our society will become involved in from
time to time. Indeed, there are many who argue that such a shift in the distribution
of leadership will be necessary for our survival. John Gardner, the
former cabinet secretary and founder of the public interest group Common
Cause, states, “In this country leadership is dispersed among all elements of
society and down through all levels, and the system simply won’t work as
it should unless large numbers of people throughout society are prepared to
take leader-like action to make things work at their level” (1987, 1).
It’s safe to predict that, over the coming years, we will see more and
more instances of what we will term “shared leadership” in public organizations,
both within public organizations and as administrators relate to their
many external constituencies. In our view, the notion of shared leadership
is especially important in the public sector as administrators work with citizens
and citizen groups of all kinds. As was suggested in Chapter 5, public
administrators will need to develop and employ new leadership skills that
include important elements of empathy, consideration, facilitation, negotiation,
and brokering.
Third, we should understand that leadership is not just about doing things
right, it’s about doing the right things. In other words, leadership is inevitably
associated with important human values, including the most fundamental public
values, values such as freedom, equality, and justice. Through the process
of leadership people work together to make choices about the directions that
they want to take; they make fundamental decisions about their futures. Such
choices cannot be made simply on the basis of a rational calculation of costs
and benefits. They require a careful balancing of human values, especially
as citizens and governmental officials work together in the development of
public policies. Leadership, as we will see, can play a “transformational”
role in this process, helping people to confront important values and to grow
and develop individually and collectively. Accordingly, a number of contemporary
writers on leadership have urged that we examine the “servant” role
of leadership and that we be attentive to “leading with soul.”
We will suggest in this chapter that the public administrator of today
and especially tomorrow will have to develop quite a different understanding
of leadership than that associated with the Old Public Administration
or the New Public Management. Leadership will need to be dramatically
reconceptualized. At a minimum, the role of public leaders will be (1) to
help the community and its citizens to understand their needs and their
potential, (2) to integrate and articulate the community’s vision and that of
the various organizations active in any particular area, and (3) to act as a
trigger or stimulus for action. This reconceptualization of public leadership
is variously described as shared leadership, values-based leadership, and
street-level leadership. Before we examine these alternatives, which we associate
most clearly with the New Public Service, we should briefly review
the approaches to leadership taken by the Old Public Administration and the
New Public Management.
The Old Public Administration and Executive Management
As we saw earlier, the prevailing view of leadership in the Old Public Administration
was based on a model of executive management. Recall that
Woodrow Wilson first argued for creating single centers of power and responsibility,
an admonition upon which a number of early writers elaborated.
W.F. Willoughby, for example, argued that administrative authority should
first be vested in a chief executive, who should have the power and authority
necessary to create a “single, integrated piece of administrative machinery”
(1927, 37). The next step is to group similar activities together in units reflecting
a division of labor. In turn, a management hierarchy can be created
through which the executive can essentially control the behavior of those
lower in the organization. The key principles underlying this interpretation
of executive leadership were exactly those found in business organizations
of the time—unity of command, hierarchical/top-down authority, and the
division of labor.
This preoccupation with organizational design, that is designing organizations
through which control might be effectively exercised, was certainly
a topic of great interest to business leaders of the time. For example, two
former General Motors executives, James Mooney and Alan C. Reiley (1939)
identified four “principles” around which organizations might be built. The
first was coordination through unity of command, the idea that strong executive
leadership should be exercised through a hierarchical chain of authority.
In such a structure, each person would have only one boss and each boss
would supervise a limited number of subordinates, leaving no question about
whose orders were to be obeyed. Second, Mooney and Reiley described
the “scalar” principle, the vertical division of labor among various levels
of the organization. For example, in the military, the difference between a
general and a private would be a “scalar” difference. A third principle, the
“functional” principle described the horizontal division of labor, as in the
distinction between infantry and artillery. Fourth, there was the distinction
between line and staff, with line offices reflecting directly the chain of
command through which authority flows, and staff offices providing advice
to those in line offices. Not surprisingly, these concerns for administrative
structure were frequently illustrated by examples from the military, seen as
the epitome of rationalized authority.
The top-down nature of internal organizational management in the Old
Public Administration was, for the most part, paralleled by a similar approach
to relations between government agencies and the citizenry or their
“clients.” As we noted earlier, administrators came to play a more and more
influential role in the process of policy development, though always with an
eye toward maintaining the primacy of the elected official. In this process
the role of the citizenry was seen as limited—largely one of periodically
electing officials, then standing on the “sidelines” to watch them perform.
At least until the mid-1960s, citizen involvement in agency operations was
extremely limited. True enough, some writers questioned that omission.
Leonard White, for example, argued against excessive centralization of
power in part because citizens need to gain experience in assuming their civic
responsibility. “If administration is to be the work of a highly centralized
bureaucracy, it is impossible to expect a sense of personal responsibility (on
the part of citizens) for good government” (1926, 96, parenthesis added).
Luther Gulick, on the other hand, pursued a much more active and independent
role for the administrator, one in which citizen involvement was at best
a device for securing compliance, at worst an unnecessary inconvenience.
According to Gulick, “the success of the operation of democracy must not
be made to depend upon extended or continuous political activity by citizens
nor upon unusual knowledge of intelligence to deal with complicated
questions” (1933, 558). Policy determination, in other words, should be
left to the “experts.”
For the most part, agencies and their leaders were either concerned with
the regulation of behavior or with direct service delivery. In either case,
detailed policies and procedures were devised, mostly to protect the rights
and responsibilities of both agency personnel and their clients. Despite their
noble purposes, these policies and procedures often became so cumbersome
that they restricted the capacity of the agency to meet clients’ needs. Thus,
government agencies and their managers came to be viewed as inefficient
and rule-bound, hopelessly wrapped in “red tape.”
The New Public Management and Entrepreneurship
In the New Public Management, the need for leadership is at least partially
eclipsed by decision rules and incentives. In such cases, leadership does not
reside in a person; rather the aggregation of individual choices replaces the
need for some leadership functions. For example, Don Kettl says that a key
issue in market-based reform is “How can government use market-style incentives
to root out the pathologies of bureaucracy?” (2000a, 1). In some cases,
governments have completely set adrift certain public functions, such as those
performed by telephone companies, airlines, and power companies, so that
they might simply compete in the market. In many other cases, governments
have contracted out the delivery of services ranging from trash collection to
prisons. Still others have tried to create mechanisms for consumer choice,
through alternative systems of service delivery or through such efforts as
providing “vouchers” for needed services. In any case, the New Public Management
aims to replace traditional, rule-based service delivery with marketbased,
competition-driven tactics. Citizens are “led” by their preferences to
one choice or another.
Osborne and Gaebler (1992) explicitly describe a reduced service delivery
role for government as a better way of “leading” society. They recommend
that government should move increasingly away from a service delivery role
(which they call “rowing”) and instead attend to policy development (which
they call “steering”). Steering organizations set policy, provide funding to
operational agencies (whether governmental or nongovernmental), and
evaluate performance. They establish a structure of “incentives” for which
agencies can compete or for which citizens can choose. But they are not
actually involved in delivering services. What are the benefits of such an
approach? Osborne and Gaebler write:
Freeing policy managers to shop around for the most effective and efficient
service providers helps them squeeze more bang out of every buck.
It allows them to use competition between service providers. It preserves
maximum flexibility to respond to changing circumstances. And it helps
them insist on accountability for quality performance, contractors know
they can be let go if their quality sags; civil servants know they cannot.
(Osborne and Gaebler 1992, 35, italics in original)
Another element of New Public Management’s approach to public leadership
is its insistence on injecting competition into areas that previously were
governmental “monopolies.” By establishing competitive bidding processes
for such services as trash collection, many cities have substantially reduced
their costs; but even more dramatic departures from tradition have been urged.
For example, many jurisdictions are experimenting with school choice as
a device for creating competition within the educational system. The idea
is simply that schools should be given enough autonomy to manage their
own resources and then the market would determine which school is most
effective as students “vote with their feet.” The incentive mechanism works
in several directions. Schools have an incentive—high enrollments—to
demonstrate high quality. Students have an incentive to seek out the best
school system.
What is important for our discussion here is that market incentives are
employed by the New Public Management as a substitute for public leadership.
Osborne and Gaebler, for example, enthusiastically endorse a statement
from John Chubb, coauthor of an important book on school choice.
You can get effective schools through other means—such as the force of
powerful leadership. But if we have to rely on the development of truly
unusual leaders in order to save our schools, our prospects simply aren’t
going to be very good. The current system is simply not set up to encourage
that kind of leadership. A system of competition and choice, on the
other hand, automatically provides the incentives for schools to do what
is right. (Quoted in Osborne and Gaebler 1992, 95)
The New Public Service and Leadership
The New Public Service sees leadership in terms of neither the manipulation
of individuals nor the manipulation of incentives. Instead, leadership
is seen as a natural part of the human experience, subject to both rational
and intuitive forces, and concerned with focusing human energy on projects
that benefit humanity. Leadership is no longer seen as a prerogative of those
in high public offices, but as a function that extends throughout groups,
organizations, and societies. What is needed, in this view, is the principled
leadership by people throughout public organizations and throughout society.
Here we will examine several prominent and representative interpretations
of this new approach to leadership.
Values Based Leadership
Perhaps the most powerful formulation of leadership, whether applied to
politics, business, or management, is the idea of “transformational leadership.”
Transformational leadership is the key concept in a classic, indeed, a
Pulitzer Prize–winning study, written by Harvard political scientist James
MacGregor Burns and titled simply Leadership (1978). In this monumental
work, Burns goes far beyond trying to understand the dynamics of leadership
in terms of rational efficiency, getting things done, or meeting organizational
objectives. Rather he seeks to develop a theory of leadership that would
extend across cultures and time and apply to groups, organizations, and societies.
Specifically, Burns seeks to understand leadership not as something
leaders do to followers but as a relationship between leaders and followers,
a mutual interaction that ultimately changes both:
[T]he process of leadership must be seen as part of the dynamics of conflict
and power; . . . leadership is nothing if not linked to collective purpose; . . .
the effectiveness of leaders must be judged not by their press clippings
but by actual social change; . . . political leadership depends on a long
chain of biological and social processes, of interaction with structures of
political opportunity and closures, of interplay between the calls of moral
principles and the recognized necessities of power; . . . in placing these
concepts of political leadership centrally into a theory . . . we will reaffirm
the possibilities of human volition and of common standards of justice in
the conduct of peoples’ affairs. (Burns 1978, 4)
Burns starts by noting that, while historically we have been preoccupied
with the relationship between power and leadership, there is an important
difference between the two. Typically, power is thought of as carrying out
one’s own will, despite resistance. Such a conception of power neglects
the important fact that power involves a relationship between leaders and
followers and that a central value in that relationship is purpose—what is
being sought and what is intended, both by the one who is exercising power
and the one who is on the receiving end. In most, though perhaps not all,
situations the recipient has some flexibility in his or her response to an attempted
exercise of power, so the power one can exercise is dependent on
the way both parties view the situation. Power wielders draw on their own
resources and their own motives, but these must be relevant to the resources
and motivations of the recipient of power.
Leadership, according to Burns, is an aspect of power, but it is also a
separate process. Power is exercised when potential power wielders, acting
to achieve goals of their own, gather resources that enable them to influence
others. Power is exercised to realize the purposes of the power wielders,
whether or not those purposes are also the purposes of the respondents
(1978, 18). Leadership, on the other hand, is exercised “when persons with
certain motives and purposes mobilize, in competition or conflict with
others, institutional, political, psychological, and other resources so as to
arouse, engage, and satisfy the motives of the followers (18). The difference
between power and leadership is that power serves the interests of
the power wielder, while leadership serves both the leader’s interests and
those of the followers. The values, motivations, wants, needs, interests, and
expectations of both leaders and followers must be represented in order for
leadership to occur.
There are actually two kinds of leadership, Burns argues. The first is
“transactional” leadership, which involves an exchange of valued things
(whether economic, political, or psychological) between initiator and respondent.
For example, a political leader might agree to support a particular
policy in exchange for votes in the next election. Or a student might write
a superb paper in exchange for an “A” grade. In the case of transactional
leadership, the two parties come together in a relationship that advances
the interests of both, but there is no deep or enduring link between them.
“Transformational” leadership, on the other hand, occurs when leaders and
followers engage with one another in such a way that they raise one another
to higher levels of morality and motivation. While the leaders and the led
may initially come together either out of pursuit of their own interests or
because the leader recognized some special potential in the followers, as
the relationship evolves, their interests become fused into mutual support
for common purposes. The relationship between leaders and followers
becomes one in which the purposes of both are elevated through the relaTHE
tionship; both parties become mobilized, inspired, uplifted. In some cases,
transformational leadership even evolves into moral leadership as leadership
raises the level of moral aspiration and moral conduct of both leaders and
followers. Moral leadership results in actions that are consistent with the
needs, interests, and aspirations of the followers, but these are also actions
that fundamentally change moral understandings and social conditions. In
the end, leadership, especially transformational or moral leadership, has the
capacity to move groups, organizations, even societies toward the pursuit
of higher purposes.
A similar, though somewhat more contemporary, interpretation of leadership
is provided by Ronald Heifetz in his book, Leadership Without Easy
Answers (1994). Heifetz argues, as we did at the beginning of this chapter,
that leadership is no longer just about establishing a vision and then getting
people to move in that direction. More bluntly, leadership is no longer
about “telling people what to do.” Instead, leadership, whether it comes
from someone in a position of formal authority or someone with little or
no formal authority, is concerned with aiding a group, an organization, or
a community in recognizing its own vision and then learning how to move
in a new direction. As an illustration of the difference between these two
views of leadership, think about the following two definitions of leadership,
“leadership means influencing the community to follow the leader’s vision”
versus “leadership means influencing the community to face its problems”
(Heifetz 1994, 14). Heifetz argues that the latter view is better suited to
contemporary life, where the tasks of leadership are not merely getting
a job done, but rather “adapting” to new and unusual circumstances. The
work of leadership, then, is “adaptive work”—work that may either involve
reconciling conflicting values that people hold or finding ways to reduce
the discrepancy between the values people hold and the realities they face.
Leadership is all about values and learning, specifically helping people learn
to identify and actualize their values. In this way, leadership is basically an
educative function.
From this theoretical standpoint, Heifetz identifies several practical lessons
for leaders—again even leaders with no formal authority:
1. Identify the Adaptive Challenge: Diagnose the situation in light of the
values at stake, and unbundle the issues that come with it.
2. Keep the Level of Distress Within a Tolerable Range for Doing Adaptive
Work: To use the pressure cooker analogy, keep the heat up without
blowing up the vessel.
3. Focus Attention on Ripening Issues and Not on Stress-Reducing Distractions:
Identify which issues can currently engage attention; and while
directing attention to them, counteract work avoidance mechanisms like
denial, scapegoating, externalizing the enemy, pretending the problem
is technical, or attacking individuals rather than issues.
4. Give the Work Back to People, But at a Rate They Can Stand: Place
and develop responsibility by putting the pressure on the people with
the problem.
5. Protect Voices of Leadership Without Authority: Give cover to those
who raise hard questions and generate distress—people who point to
the internal contradictions of the society. These individuals often will
have latitude to provoke rethinking that authorities do not have (Heifetz
1994, 128).
Shared Leadership
John Bryson and Barbara Crosby (1992) set the stage for their discussion of
shared leadership by contrasting the traditional model of bureaucratic leadership
with more contemporary leadership—where no one is in charge. On
the one hand, there is the traditional, hierarchical bureaucracy, which has the
capacity to “get its hands around problems” and to engage in rational and
expert problem-solving and planning processes to arrive at solutions that it can
then implement “on its own.” On the other hand, as we saw in our discussion
of the new processes of governance, today’s problems increasingly require the
involvement of networks of many different organizations with different styles,
agendas, and concerns. Those groups that are concerned may have serious
differences—in direction, motivation, timing, assets, and so on—and these
differences may be severe. In these more fluid and chaotic circumstances, the
rational model of formal leadership no longer works. Instead, someone, often
someone who is not in a formal position of authority, must assume leadership,
bringing together all those concerned with the problem and helping to resolve
or mediate their differences, while never controlling, but rather leading by
example, persuasion, encouragement, and empowerment.
This alternative model of leadership, which Bryson and Einsweiler
describe as “shared transformative capacity” (1991, 3), is sometimes
slow and often tedious, but for good reason. Leaders in a world of shared
power and shared capabilities have needs which require special time and
attention, “the need to be sure the move is politically acceptable, technically
workable, and legally and ethically defensible; the need to have
the move endorsed by a coalition large enough to support and protect it;
and the desire to keep as many options as possible open as long as possible”
(Bryson and Crosby 1992, 9). While shared leadership takes time,
because more people and groups are involved, ironically, it is often far
more successful for exactly the same reason—because more people and
more groups are involved!
But success requires an understanding of the various places in which policy
decisions take place and the various steps that individuals and groups must
work through to be successful. Bryson and Crosby (1992) suggest three settings
that are becoming more frequently employed in bringing people together
and negotiating or brokering their different points of view. Forums are spaces
in which people can engage in discussion, debate, and deliberation. They
may include discussion groups, formal debates, public hearings, task forces,
conferences, newspapers, radio, television, and the Internet. Arenas, on the
other hand, are more formal and have a more delimited domain. Examples
might be executive committees, city councils, faculty senates, boards of
directors, and legislatures. Finally, courts are settings that focus on dispute
resolution according to established societal norms. Here examples might be
the Supreme Court, traffic courts, professional licensing bodies, and ethics
enforcement bodies.
Bryson and Crosby then lay out several key steps in effectively solving
public problems:
1. Forging an Initial Agreement to Act: An initial group of leaders, key
decision makers, and ordinary citizens come together and agree on
the need to respond to a particular problem. As more people become
involved and as each phase informs the next, this step is likely to recur
in a continuous loop (as are the next two). Leaders must secure the
involvement and participation of all affected groups (and perhaps some
that are not).
2. Developing an Effective Problem Definition to Guide Action: The
way in which problems are framed will dramatically affect the way
different parties respond to and engage in the process and the way in
which eventual solutions are structured. People must rethink problems
before moving to their solution. Here public leadership is perhaps most
intense, because leaders can “help people see new problems or see old
problems in new ways.”
3. Searching for Solutions in Forums: In this phase, a search for solutions
to the problems previously identified takes place. Especially in this
phase, leaders facilitate the construction of alternative scenarios for
moving from a problem-filled past to a problem-free future. A key here
is to be sure that proposed solutions meet the problem as defined before
and don’t just capture the interests of particular groups. Leadership is
required to transcend the private interests that may come forward during
this phase.
4. Developing a Proposal that Can Win in Arenas: Here the focus shifts
to the development of policies that can be put on the agendas of formal
decision-making bodies. The key is that action in forums and less formal
groups must produce proposals that will likely be adopted, proposals
that are both technically sound and politically acceptable.
5. Adopting Public Policy Solutions: In this phase, those advocating
change seek the adoption of their proposals by those with formal decision-
making authority and the resources and support necessary for
successful implementation.
6. Implementing New Policies and Plans: Policies don’t implement themselves,
so extending the newly adopted policy throughout the system
involves a multitude of details and arrangements associated with the
implementation process. Until these concerns are attended to, the
change cannot be considered complete.
7. Reassessing Policies and Programs: Even following implementation,
there is a need to reevaluate the situation. Things change, people
change, resource commitments change—and any of these can lead to a
new round of policy change. (Adapted from Bryson and Crosby 1992,
A similar argument is developed by Jeffrey Luke in Catalytic Leadership
(1998). Consistent with our earlier discussion of network-based governance,
Luke points out that public organizations are increasingly limited in what
they can do on their own. Many other groups and organizations must be
involved in addressing issues such as teenage pregnancy, traffic congestion,
and environmental pollution. In addition, traditional leadership, the type Luke
associates with business corporations and bureaucractic government agencies,
is largely based on hierarchical authority and cannot be easily transferred
to situations that are dispersed, chaotic, and complex. In contrast, in these
circumstances, which increasingly characterize the public policy process,
leadership must “focus attention and mobilize sustained action by multiple
and diverse stakeholders” (1998, 5).
The problem, on one hand, is that government is no longer “in charge”
of the policy process. “Governance in the United States is characterized by
a dynamic interplay among government agencies, nonprofit service providers,
business enterprises, multinational corporations, neighborhood groups,
special-interest and advocacy groups, labor unions, academia, the media,
and many other formal and informal associations that attempt to influence
the public agenda” (Luke 1998, 4). Moreover, the most substantial problems
we face today cross organizational, jurisdictional, and sector boundaries.
What happens in one place or what one organization does is likely to affect
the problem only in a marginal way; all the other groups and organizations
interested in the same issue are also affecting the issue. In other words,
there is an underlying web of interdependence and interconnectedness that
ties many different groups together. Without the involvement of all these
interconnected groups and organizations, little can be done to effectively
address complex public problems. Moreover, given the passionate commitment
and highly focused interest of most of these parties, it’s often difficult
to exclude anyone.
According to Luke, effective public leadership in an interconnected world,
what he calls “catalytic” leadership, involves four specific tasks:
1. Focus attention by elevating the issue to the public and policy agendas.
Moving a particular problem onto the public agenda involves identifying
the problem, creating a sense of urgency about its solution, and
triggering broad public interest.
2. Engage people in the effort by convening the diverse set of people,
agencies, and interests needed to address the issue. Engaging people
involves identifying all the stakeholders and those with understanding
of the problems, enlisting core group members, and convening the
initial meetings.
3. Stimulate multiple strategies and options for action. This step requires
building and nurturing an effective working group, with a unifying
purpose and a credible process for discussion and group learning.
Strategic development involves identifying desired outcomes, exploring
multiple options, and promoting commitment to the strategies that
are developed.
4. Sustain action and maintain momentum by managing the interconnections
through appropriate institutionalization and rapid information
sharing and feedback. In this stage, it is necessary to build support
among “champions,” power holders, advocacy groups, and those holding
important resources. The leader must then turn to institutionalizing
cooperative behavior and becoming a network facilitator. (Adapted
from Luke 1998, 37–148)
As we have noted before, the New Public Service requires developing
skills quite different from those associated with controlling public agencies
or those involved in strict economic analysis—though particular skills may
be appropriate from time to time. Instead, those interested in a New Public
Service will need to develop skills in other areas. Luke specifically addresses
this concern by describing three specific skill sets required for catalytic leadership
(1998, 149–240). The first is thinking and acting strategically—framing
and reframing issues, identifying desired outcomes and connecting those
with specific actions or strategies that might be undertaken, identifying
stakeholders and others whose involvement is essential to success, and
drawing out the interconnections so essential to effective leadership in the
complex public policy universe. The second is facilitating productive work
groups—engaging in skillful interventions that move a group forward,
helping the group cope with conflict, and forging multiple agreements,
hopefully through consensus building. The third is leading from personal
passion and inner values:
Catalytic leaders lead from strength of character, not strength of personality.
Successful catalysts exhibit a strength of character that establishes their
credibility to convene diverse groups. They have the personal confidence
to facilitate and mediate sometimes difficult agreements, and they possess
a long-term perspective that helps focus and refocus groups members’
attention in the face of small defeats. (Luke 1998, 219)
Once again, as in our discussion of the dignity and worth of public service,
we argue that passion, commitment, and perseverance in the face of difficult
problems are often required to “make a difference.”
Servants, Not Owners
In the New Public Service, there is an explicit recognition that public administrators
are not the business owners of their agencies and programs.
Accordingly, the mindset of public administrators is that public programs
and resources do not belong to them. Rather, public administrators have accepted
a responsibility to serve citizens by being stewards of public resources
(Kass 1990), conservators of public organizations (Terry 1995), facilitators
of citizenship and democratic dialogue (Box 1998; Chapin and Denhardt
1995; King and Stivers 1998), and catalysts for community engagement
(Denhardt and Gray 1998; Lappé and Du Bois 1994). This is a very different
perspective from that of a business owner focused on profit and efficiency.
Accordingly, the New Public Service suggests that public administrators not
only must share power, work through people, and broker solutions but also
must reconceptualize their role in the governance process as responsible
participant, not entrepreneur.
Accordingly, when public administrators take risks, they are not entrepreneurs
of their own businesses who can make such decisions knowing that
the consequences of failure will fall largely on their own shoulders. Risk
in the public sector is different (Denhardt and Denhardt 1999). In the New
Public Service, risks and opportunities reside within the larger framework of
democratic citizenship and shared responsibility. Because the consequences
of either success or failure are not limited to a private business concern, public
administrators do not single-handedly decide what is best for a community.
This need not mean that all short-term opportunities are lost. If dialogue
and citizen engagement are ongoing, opportunities and potential risks can
be explored in a timely manner. The important factor to consider is whether
the benefits of a public administrator’s taking immediate and risky action
in response to an opportunity outweigh the costs to trust, collaboration, and
the sense of shared responsibility.
Finally, in the New Public Service, shared and value-based leadership
is seen as a function and responsibility at all levels of the organization,
from the executive suite to the street level. Vinzant and Crothers (1998), for
example, describe how public servants on the front lines are called upon
to exercise discretion, involve others, and make decisions that respect and
reflect a variety of factors and values. They must be responsive to agency
rules, the community they serve, their supervisors, and their coworkers, as
well as to situational and ethical variables. Vinzant and Crothers argue that
in many of these cases, front line public servants are called upon to behave
as value-based leaders: “They make choices and take action to elevate the
goals, attitudes, and values of the participants in a given situation in ways
that may be counter to their immediate interests and desires, but that can be
legitimated through reference to the broader complex of ideals and values
involved in the case” (1998, 112).
In the New Public Service, leadership is based on values and is shared
throughout the organization and with the community. This change in the
conceptualization of the public administrator’s role has profound implications
for the types of leadership challenges and responsibilities faced by public
servants. First, public administrators must know and manage more than
just the requirements and resources of their programs. The narrow view is
not very helpful to a citizen whose world is not conveniently divided up by
programmatic departments and offices. The problems citizens face are often,
if not usually, multifaceted, fluid, and dynamic—and they do not easily fall
within the confines of a particular office or the narrow job description of an
individual. To serve citizens, then, public administrators must not only know
and manage their own resources, they must also be aware of and connected
to other sources of support and assistance, engaging citizens and the community
in the process. They do not seek to control, nor do they assume that
self-interested choice serves as a surrogate for dialogue and shared values.
In short, they must share power and lead with passion, commitment, and
integrity in a manner that respects and empowers citizenship.
The material in the section entitled “The Old Public Administration and Executive
Management” and the discussion of James Burns’s Leadership (1978) are adapted
from a book by Robert B. Denhardt, Janet V. Denhardt, and Maria P. Aristigueta,
Managing Human Behavior in Public and Nonprofit Organizations (Thousand Oaks,
CA: Sage, 2002).
Chapter 9
Value People, Not Just Productivity
Value people, not just productivity. Public organizations and the networks
in which they participate are more likely to be successful in the long run if
they are operated through processes of collaboration and shared leadership
based on respect for all people.
In its approach to management and organization, the New Public Service
emphasizes the importance of managing through people. Systems of productivity
improvement, process reengineering, and performance measurement
are seen as important tools in designing management systems. But the New
Public Service suggests that such rational attempts to control human behavior
are likely to fail in the long term if, at the same time, insufficient attention
is paid to the values and interests of individual members of an organization.
Moreover, while these approaches may get results, they do not build responsible,
engaged, and civic-minded employees or citizens.
The evolution of thought with regard to how to best manage people involves
a number of related topics and ideas including motivation, “supervision”
and leadership, organizational culture, organizational structure, and
organizational power. It involves questions about the nature of authority,
definitions of performance and responsibility, and the establishment of trust.
Most fundamentally, however, it is grounded in our most basic assumptions
about the nature of people and behavior. In this chapter we will explore the
very different assumptions and conceptual foundations for the views about
managing people exemplified in the Old Public Administration, the New Public
Management, and the New Public Service. We will begin by looking at the
major concepts and ideas related to motivation and management in historical
perspective. We then compare the assumptions and models that underlie the
management of people from the perspective of the Old Public Administration,
the New Public Management, and the New Public Service.
Human Behavior in Organizations: Key Concepts
Our beliefs about what motivates human behavior in large measure determine
how we interpret, respond to, and try to influence the behavior of others.
When theorists initially began to study human behavior in organizations, the
assumptions they made about the nature of people were relatively simplistic
and generally negative. One of the first and most central ideas in the study
of organizational management was that in order for organizations to function,
workers had to be induced or forced to produce certain behaviors and
perform particular tasks. These tasks were to be accomplished by people
within an organization that was understood principally as a “structure” for
regularizing interactions and processes. The goal of this structure was to
obtain efficient and consistent performance of tasks.
While we now talk of the structure of the organization as being one factor
among several in influencing worker behavior, initially, it was the focus
of management. Ott states, “The structure—an organization’s shape, size,
procedures, production technology, position descriptions, reporting arrangements,
and coordinating relationships—affects the feelings and emotions, and
therefore the behavior of the people and groups inside them” (1996, 304).
These feelings and emotions were largely ignored in the study of organizations
and management for many decades. Rather, it was assumed that if
the work was designed well and authority relationships were appropriately
structured and regularized, optimum efficiency could be realized.
Hierarchy and Scientific Management
The German sociologist Max Weber is perhaps most closely associated with
the structural approach to managing and controlling human behavior in organizations.
Weber described bureaucratic organizational structure as characterized
by a hierarchy of authority, regularized rules and procedures, and
formalized positions with fixed duties, and said that such a structure would
lead to predictable and efficient performance. “Precision, speed, unambiguity,
knowledge of the files, continuity, discretion, unity, strict subordination,
reduction of friction and of material and personal costs—these are raised
to the optimum point in the strictly bureaucratic administration” (Weber,
quoted in Gerth and Mills 1946, 214). In part because bureaucracy was the
best way to attain efficiency, Weber said, bureaucracy is the “most rational
known means of carrying out imperative control over human beings” (337).
This is accomplished, in part, by making the administrative processes as
objective, rational, and depersonalized as possible. “The objective discharge
of business primarily means a discharge of business according to calculable
rules and ‘without regard to persons’” (215). Weber went on to say that this
dehumanization of work, “is the specific nature of bureaucracy and it is appraised
as its special virtue” (216).
Yet, Weber himself was concerned about the consequences of bureaucracy
for both democratic values and the individual human spirit. He said “‘democracy’
as such is opposed to the ‘rule’ of bureaucracy” (Weber, quoted
in Gerth and Mills 1946, 231). Even so, Weber thought that ultimately, bureaucratic
power would exceed that of the political sphere: “Under normal
conditions, the power position of a fully developed bureaucracy is always
overpowering” (232).
Not only was Weber concerned about the implications of bureaucracy for
democratic governance, he was worried about its consequences for people.
“The individual bureaucrat cannot squirm out of the apparatus in which he
is harnessed (Weber, quoted in Gerth and Mills 1946, 228). He referred to
bureaucratization as creating an “iron cage” in which “all forms of valueoriented
social conduct would be suffocated by the almighty bureaucratic
structures and by the tightly-knit networks of formal-rational laws and
regulations, against which the individual would no longer stand any chance
at all” (Mommsen 1974, 57).
Despite these concerns, the values of bureaucracy and efficiency found
particularly fertile ground with early management theorists who sought to
find the best means to control workers and achieve efficiency. These early
management theorists viewed workers primarily as extensions of their tools
and machines. It was thought that the fear of physical or economic punishment
was needed to get people to work. Only those “motivated” by money
or fear would complete their assigned tasks.
For example, as we saw earlier, Frederick Taylor argued that workers would
do what they were told if they were given specific instructions and then paid
a piece rate to follow them. He urged managers to study the tasks to be performed,
establish the best way to perform them, and then scientifically select
and train workers to do the job. The workers could then be induced to perform
by paying a set amount of money for each task performed or product produced.
Although Taylor saw this as a mutually beneficial approach for workers and
managers, it was clear that he assumed workers to be naturally lazy and stupid.
For example, in his comments about inducing men to haul big iron, he said it
is “possible to train an intelligent gorilla” to do their job (1911, 40). He also
expected employees to obey their superiors without question.
The Human Factor
These ideas about obedience to authority and hierarchy were the dominant
management doctrine in the early 1900s and still exert considerable influence
today. Although there were a few early humanistic writings on management
and workers (e.g., Follett 1926; Munsterberg 1913), it was not until
the publication of the Hawthorne studies in the 1930s that there was any
significant recognition of the importance of social (as opposed to economic
or technical) factors in work motivation. Even the Hawthorne experiments
themselves began as a study of “the relation between conditions of work
and the incidence of fatigue and monotony among employees” (Roethlisberger
and Dickson 1939, 3). But the study did not go as planned, and the
researchers ultimately found that human relationships (including the worker’s
relationship with the researchers) influenced worker behavior. Consequently,
new models were needed to explain worker behavior. The researchers found
that behavior and motivation are complex, influenced by attitudes, feelings,
and the meanings that people assign to their work and their relationships at
work. As Roethlisberger and Dickson stated, “It is [our] simple thesis that
a human problem requires a human solution” (1939, 35).
Research that immediately followed the Hawthorne studies resulted in the
beginnings of a more sophisticated understanding of the relationship between
people, work, and organizations. Ideas such as the importance of human
cooperation (Barnard 1948) and the influence of groups (Knickerbocker
and McGregor 1942) were studied by researchers to determine how these
factors might influence work performance. By the 1950s, there was growing
agreement among management theorists that motivation was a psychological
concept rather than a purely economic one.
This recognition was exemplified in McGregor’s (1957) work in which he
distinguished between what he called Theory X and Theory Y assumptions
about workers. He argued that traditional command and control approaches
(Theory X), based on the assumption that people are lazy, uninvolved, and
motivated solely by money, actually cause people to behave in a manner
consistent with that expectation. Theory Y, on the other hand, is based on a
much more optimistic and humanistic view of people, and emphasizes the
inherent dignity and worth of individuals in organizations. Holding these
assumptions, and acting on them, would allow these more positive qualities
of workers to manifest themselves in organizations.
Other theorists looked at different aspects of worker motivation and conducted
research on the behavior of individuals under differing circumstances.
In simple terms, contemporary motivation theory seeks to explain voluntary,
goal directed behavior. There are a variety of models that emphasize differGROUPS,
ent aspects of motivation: human needs (e.g., Herzberg 1968; McClelland
1985; Maslow 1943); an individual’s expectations, skills, and desires (Vroom
1964); goal setting (Locke 1978); perceptions of equity and fairness (Adams
1963); opportunities for participation (Lawler 1990); and motivation based
on public service values and norms (Perry and Wise 1990).
As assumptions about workers and their motivations changed, so did the
dominant framework for an understanding of the role of management and
leadership. Management’s role was originally conceived of as documenting
tasks and procedures, and then supervising and controlling workers
accordingly. With the recognition of the psychological components of human
motivation came the need to broaden the definition of management to
include “human relations” in order to keep workers satisfied and productive.
Importantly, however, while the parameters of management changed, the
goals typically remained the same—to improve and maintain productivity.
In many cases, the idea was to treat people better and more humanely in
order to get better performance from them. It wasn’t until the last several
decades that the argument that treating people with respect and dignity is
important in its own right, not simply as a means to improve production,
gained currency in the management literature.
Groups, Culture, and Democratic Administration
A number of other perspectives on managing the workers’ behavior have
also emerged and gained recognition. It has been argued, for example, that
group norms and behaviors influence individual behavior (e.g., Asch 1951;
Homans 1954; Lewin 1951; Sherif 1936; Whyte 1943). These theorists suggest
that human beings are social, and readily form groups both inside and
outside of organizations. These groups create norms, roles, and expectations
for members that both meet individuals’ needs for affiliation and belongingness,
but also require a level of conformity in order to maintain membership.
Accordingly, work groups, both formal and informal, create a normative
context for our behavior in organizations. Mary Parker Follett, for example,
argued that group dynamics and the motivations of the individual should
form the basis of administration. Rather than simply responding to orders,
managers and workers should define administrative problems jointly, and
respond accordingly—taking their “orders” from the circumstances. She
wrote in 1926, “One person should not give orders to another person, but
both should agree to take their orders from the situation” (quoted in Shafritz
and Hyde 1997, 56). Still other theorists looked at how individual characteristics
influence organizational behavior such as those who emphasize
the life stage of workers (Schott 1986) or personality characteristics (e.g.,
Myers Briggs or similar inventories). Power and politics, once the province
of political scientists and philosophers, have also been used as a lens for
understanding human behavior in organizations (French and Raven 1959;
Kotter 1977; Pfeffer 1981).
Critiques of bureaucracy and hierarchy have also been launched from the
standpoint of the inconsistency between bureaucracy and democratic governance.
Waldo in his book The Administrative State (1948), for example,
argued not only that administrative questions were inherently value-laden,
but that administration itself must be made more consistent with democratic
principles. “The Administrative State contains a strong message: that an
uncritical acceptance of an administrative outlook constitutes a rejection of
democratic theory and that this is a societal problem, not simply a problem
of administrative management” (Denhardt 2000, 66–67). In other words,
Waldo’s argument is that the extension of the hierarchical and “neutral”
bureaucracy would ultimately undermine democracy.
Only by making the administrative machinery adhere to democratic
norms and principles could this threat be addressed. This requires not only
expanding the role of citizens in policy administration, but it also requires
reforming the administrative process itself. As suggested by Levitan “a
democratic state must not only be based on democratic principles but also
democratically administered, the democratic philosophy permeating its
administrative machinery” (1943, 359). Waldo was even more direct in his
criticism of hierarchy and bureaucratic control and his hope for reform, saying
that what was needed was:
Substantial abandonment of the authority—submission, superordinate—
subordinate thought patterns which tend to dominate our administrative
theory. . . . In rare moments of optimism, one permits himself the luxury
of a dream of society of the future in which education and general culture
are consonant with a working world in which all participate both as “leaders”
and “followers” according to “rules of the game” known to all. Such
a society would be postbureaucratic. (Waldo 1948, 103)
This critique of bureaucracy and the call to make administration more
democratic dovetailed neatly with the developments that were occurring in
motivation theory. For instance, making administration more democratic
and less hierarchical would allow for individuals to express their natural
tendencies to work and be responsible as suggested by McGregor, to meet
social/esteem/self-actualization needs as suggested by Maslow, and to take
orders from the situation as advocated by Follett.
Another important idea with regard to managing the behavior of people
in organizations is the concept of organizational culture. Rather than seeing
an organization as a static “structure,” the organizational culture perspective
draws from the field of anthropology to understand how norms, beliefs,
and values are shared by members of an organization and, in turn, define its
boundaries. These shared norms and values are manifest in organizational
members’ language and behaviors, rituals, and symbols, and in the artifacts
they produce. Culture expresses the ideas and overall values that define an
organization and has a significant and long-lasting influence on its members.
Schein (1987) suggested that there are three levels of organizational
culture: (1) the observable social and physical environment, such as physical
layout, technological preferences, language patterns, or the day-to-day
operating routines that guide people’s behavior; (2) the values and ideas
about the way the organization “should” be; and (3) the often hidden and
largely unquestioned assumptions and beliefs held by members of the organization
that guide their behavior. Schein suggests that the last category
constitutes the core definition of culture: “a pattern of basic assumptions . . .
that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be
taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in
relation to those problems” (1987, 9). Or as Ott states, “It functions as an
organizational control mechanism, informally approving or prohibiting
behaviors” (1989, 50).
Despite this evolution of thought, there remains a lack of consensus about
what motivates people and how best to influence behavior in organizations.
As will be explored in the sections that follow, public choice theorists argue
strenuously for a model of human behavior and motivation based solely on
self-interested, individual decision making, to the exclusion of other explanations
of human behavior. For others, there has been a growing recognition
that in addition to self-interest, human motivation involves both social
and psychological factors. This leads to a much more complex view of the
relationship between organizations and human behavior in which both the
structure of the organization and interactions and relationships between
individuals and groups influence behavior. In this more complex view, it is
also assumed that individuals with different experiences and personalities
will respond to organizational life in different ways. Organizational politics
are also believed to influence behavior as people seek to obtain and maintain
power. Finally, in this view, organizational culture is understood as creating
the normative context for our behavior in organizations. In short, for these
theorists, people are seen as bringing their social and emotional needs to
work. In the sections that follow, we will explore how these issues are dealt
with from the perspectives of the Old Public Administration, the New Public
Management, and the New Public Service.
The Old Public Administration: Using Control to
Achieve Efficiency
The Old Public Administration is based on the ideas that efficiency is the
preeminent value and that people won’t be productive and work hard unless
you make them. In this view, workers will be productive only when
they are provided with monetary incentives, and when they believe that
management can and will punish them for poor performance. Employee
motivation is not considered in a direct way. In the early twentieth century,
when Old Public Administration was the dominant model, people were
expected to simply follow orders, and for the most part, they did. Public
employment was considered to be a simple quid pro quo arrangement
analogous to employment in the private sector: In exchange for a steady
salary, workers would carefully and methodically carry out assigned tasks.
The treatment of workers as human beings with emotions and needs, with
contributions and insights, with value in their own right, was not part of
the equation.
Efficiency, defined as the ratio of costs to outputs, demanded that cost
control and productivity were the primary, if not the sole, objectives of
management. The challenge was to organize and structure the work so as to
minimize costs and maximize production. Employees were considered to be
costs. Accordingly, the goal was to minimize the cost of labor by obtaining
the maximum output from each employee while providing the least salary
and other monetary incentives possible. The emphasis was on the potential
gain in efficiency, not on the long-term well-being of the people who worked
in the organization, much less the citizens or the community. It was assumed
that the issues of community, citizenship, and democracy fell squarely within
the political sphere and completely outside the realm of administration. To
the extent that “humanistic” approaches can be accommodated in the Old
Public Administration, they were seen merely as vehicles to secure more productivity.
For example, in the Hawthorne experiments it was recommended
that managers institute a “suggestion box” for employees, to make them feel
more involved and therefore potentially more productive. But there was no
consideration of the idea that the suggestions might actually be useful or
important in their own right.
The idea was that the organization itself should be the primary concern
of management. If it could be structured according to the ideals of bureaucracy,
if it could advance the values of neutral competence and expertise,
and if management systems could be put into place to control and account
for the expenditure of funds, then public organizations would fulfill their
intended function.
The New Public Management: Using Incentives to
Achieve Productivity
As we saw earlier, public choice theory is based on a number of important
assumptions about the behavior of people and how to best manage that
behavior to achieve public policy objectives. Principal agent theory applies
these assumptions to explain the relationship between executives and the
workers in an organization using the metaphor of a contract. This contract
is necessary because, although the employee (the agent) acts on behalf of
the executive (the principal), their goals and objectives are different. As a
result, the principal has to obtain enough information to monitor the agent,
determine results, and provide sufficient incentives to consistently obtain
them. Because the goal is efficiency, the question then becomes a matter
of what is the least-cost approach that the organization can use to keep
employees from seeking their own, rather than organizational, goals and to
verify that they are doing so.
The New Public Management, with its reliance on public choice and
principal agent theory, has made some important contributions to our understanding
of human behavior. It is important to note, however, that it relies on
economic rationality as the explanation of human behavior to the exclusion
of other ways of understanding motivation and the human experience. If that
is so, the only way to successfully influence their behavior is by altering the
decision-making rules or incentives so as to alter their self-interest to be
more in line with organizational priorities.
The New Public Service: Respecting Public Service Ideals
The assumptions about the motivations and treatment of people in the New
Public Service differ starkly from both the Old Public Administration and
the New Public Management. The Old Public Administration assumed
people to be as McGregor’s Theory X described them: lazy, stupid, lacking
in drive, and unwilling to accept responsibility. Accordingly, they had to
be controlled and threatened with punishment to secure their performance.
The New Public Management has a different, but no more trusting, view of
people. It assumes that they are self-interested and will seek to meet their
own objectives unless they are monitored and provided with enough incentives
to do otherwise. As such, the New Public Management, like Taylor’s
scientific management, excludes consideration of group norms and values,
organizational culture, emotional/social considerations, and psychological
and other “irrational” needs. It negates the idea that people act in response
to shared values, loyalty, citizenship, and the public interest.
We are not suggesting that people are never lazy or self-interested. Rather,
relying on self-interest as the sole explanation of human behavior represents a
very narrow, and largely negative, view of people that is neither borne out by
experience nor can be justified from a normative standpoint. In other words,
people don’t typically act that way. More importantly, they shouldn’t.
The elements of human behavior that are at the core of the New Public
Service, such as human dignity, trust, belongingness, concern for others,
service, and citizenship based on shared ideals and the public interests,
are deemphasized in the Old Public Administration and the New Public
Management. In the New Public Service, ideals such as fairness, equity,
responsiveness, respect, empowerment, and commitment do not negate but
often outweigh the value of efficiency as the sole criterion for the operation
of government. As Frederickson states, “Persons who practice public administration
must be increasingly familiar with issues of both representational
and direct democracy, with citizen participation, with principles of justice
and individual freedom” (1982, 503). Frederickson was talking about the
relationship between public servants and citizens, but the same principle
applies in how public managers ought to treat other public servants.
If you assume that people are capable of other-mindedness, of service, of
acting on shared values as citizens, then it is only logically consistent that you
assume public employees are capable of the same motivations and behaviors.
We cannot expect public servants to treat their fellow citizens with respect
and dignity if they themselves are not treated with respect and dignity. We
cannot expect them to trust and empower others, to listen to their ideas, and
to work cooperatively unless we are willing to do the same for them. In the
New Public Service, the enormous challenges and complexities of the work
of public administrators are recognized. Service and democratic ideals are
applauded. Public servants are viewed not just as employees who crave the
security and structure of a bureaucratic job (the Old Public Administration),
nor as participants in a market (the New Public Management); rather, public
servants are people whose motivations and rewards are more than simply
a matter of pay or security. They want to make a difference in the lives of
others (Denhardt 1993; Perry and Wise 1990; Vinzant 1998).
Elmer Staats, former comptroller of the United States and a distinguished
public servant, once wrote that public service is far more than an occupational
category. It is better defined, he said, as “an attitude, a sense of duty—yes even
a sense of public morality” (1988, 602). This is consistent with the notion
that public service motives are very important and powerful in motivating
the behavior of the public servants. Public service motivation is based on
an individual’s predisposition to respond to motives grounded primarily or
uniquely in public institutions and organizations (Perry and Wise, 1990). In
other words, there are particular motives that are associated with the nature
of public service work that revolve around service to others and the public
interest. These motives are related to values such as loyalty, duty, citizenship,
equity, opportunity, and fairness. Research has shown that these norm-based,
and affective motives are unique to public service and critical to understanding
behavior in public organizations (Balfour and Weschler 1990; Denhardt,
Denhardt, and Aristigueta 2002; Frederickson and Hart 1985; Perry and Wise
1990; Vinzant 1998).
As we saw earlier, Frederickson and Hart (1985) argue that too frequently
we fail to make a distinction between what they call the “moral entailments”
of service in the public sector and employment in the private sector. When
we do so, we denigrate the ideals of both democratic citizenship and public
service. They call for a return to what they call “the patriotism of benevolence”
based first on the love of and patriotism to democratic values, and
second, on benevolence defined as “extensive and non-instrumental love of
others” (1985, 547). This means that we should serve and care for others,
and work to protect their rights, not because it advances our own interests,
but because it is the right thing to do for its own sake. This patriotism of
benevolence, they argue, ought to be “the primary motivation of public
servants in the United States” (547).
Similarly, Hart points out that that the primary obligations of public
servants are “to encourage civic autonomy; to govern by persuasion, to
transcend the corruptions of power; and to become civic exemplars” (1997,
967). Accordingly, he says, “public servants are obligated to embody those
values intentionally in all their actions, whether with superiors, colleagues,
subordinates, or the general public” (1997, 968, emphasis added). Put simply,
in public organizations, we need to treat each other and our fellow citizens
in a manner consistent with democratic ideals, trust, and respect. We do so
because we believe that people respond to and are motivated by such values,
and because we believe that public service plays a special role in advancing
and encouraging those aspects of human character.
Practically speaking, then, the values of the New Public Service dictate
that we encourage, model, and enact our commitment to democratic ideals
and our trust of others. As managers, we can encourage public service motives
and values by making them a central part of organizational identity
and culture. Because we know and trust that the people we work with want
to serve others, we need to treat them as partners in the pursuit of the public
interest. This suggests, even demands, a highly inclusive, participative
approach to management—not just as an instrumental means to enhance
productivity, but as a means to advance the values at the core of public service.
Roy Adams puts it succinctly: “Efficiency is not enough” (1992, 18).
Participative approaches are needed in order for people in organizations to
have “a decent and dignified existence” (18). Moreover, although participation
often improves performance, its value should not be dependent upon
its contribution to something else. Participation is an important value in and
of itself.
Robert Golembiewski (1977), as we saw earlier, has argued that organizational
democracy is based on participation by all organization members
in decision making, frequent feedback of the results of organizational
performance, sharing of management-level information throughout the
organization, guarantees for individual rights, the availability of appeal or
recourse in cases of intractable disputes, and a set of supporting attitudes or
values. He suggested that the closer an organization is to these criteria, the
more democratic the organization will be. Edward Lawler (1990) advocates
what he calls “high-involvement” management, based on information sharing,
training, decision making, and rewards as the four key components of
a successful employee participation program. He argues that participation
enhances motivation because it helps people understand what is expected
and see the relationships between performance and outcomes.
According to Kearney and Hays (1994), public managers are beginning
to realize how vitally important it is to use participatory management approaches.
These authors argue that participatory approaches should begin
with the premise that workers are an organization’s most important asset,
and should be treated accordingly. All employees must be empowered by
management to participate in decision making, and must be allowed to do
so without fear. Based on their review of the research of a participative approach
to organizational decision making, they conclude that this approach
is an effective way to increase employee satisfaction and productivity.
In the New Public Service, the fact that these approaches “work better”
to enhance satisfaction, boost productivity, and enhance an organization’s
capacity for change are important. In fact, it has been shown that although
both quality management and participation in decision making have positive
effects on employee performance, participation in decision making has a
much greater effect (Stashevsky and Elizur 2000). What is most important
from the standpoint of the New Public Service is that participative and inclusive
approaches are the only ones that build citizenship, responsibility,
and trust, and advance the values of service in the public interest. They are
the only approaches that make sense if you begin with the assumption that
public servants are, and ought to be, motivated by democratic ideals and
service to others. To treat them otherwise discourages this important source
of pride and the motivation to be selfless in the pursuit of the public interest.
It is this normative core of public service that the nation found so compelCONCLUSION
ling on watching the police and firefighters, the health care and emergency
workers, as well as the citizen volunteers, in the aftermath of the September
11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. This devotion to public
service represents what is best, and most important to the achievement of
public values and democractic ideals.
As discussed in Chapter 8, the notion of shared leadership is critical in
providing opportunities for employees and citizens to affirm and act upon
their public service motives and values. In the New Public Service, shared
leadership, collaboration, and empowerment become the norm both inside
and outside the organization. Shared leadership focuses on the goals, values,
and ideals that the organization and community want to advance. As Burns
(1978) would say, leadership exercised by working through and with people
transforms the participants and shifts their focus to higher-level values.
Through shared (or transformational) leadership, the purposes and ends of
organizations, groups, and communities are transformed to another, higher
set of goals and values. This process must be characterized by mutual respect,
accommodation, and support. The public service motives of citizens and employees
alike can be recognized, supported, and rewarded in the process.
Writing about management in the private sector, Plas (1996) states that
organizational culture must evolve and find a “place for the heart again” in
the workplace. Workers should be permitted, she says, to participate with
their labor, with their minds, and with their hearts. Managers should be, and
should encourage their employees to be, “authentic.” Managers and workers
should share their feelings, values, and ethics within the corporate environment.
Plas says this requires a new social contract between employees and
employers. The old contract assumed that the employee would work hard and
the organization would look after the employee. Modern society has shown
that these contracts do not work, if, in fact, they ever did. The new contract
is based on the assumption that both the individual and the organization have
responsibilities to each other and accordingly, to creating and maintaining
a successful relationship.
Public sector managers have a special responsibility and a unique opportunity
to capitalize on the “heart” of public service. People are attracted
to the public service because they are motivated by public service values.
These values—to serve others, to make the world better and safer, and to
make democracy work—represent the best of what it means to be a citizen in
the service of a community. We need to nourish and encourage these higherlevel
motivations and values, not extinguish them by treating people as if
they were cogs in a machine or as if they were only capable of self-serving
behavior. How many of us have seen what happens when an idealistic public
servant comes to a public organization and is treated as if his or her idealism
is naiveté—and is told that what is expected and rewarded is to do what they
are told and keep quiet? If we treat people as bureaucrats, as self-serving and
self-interested individuals, we encourage them to become just that. Believing
in the public service, and our role in serving the public interest, is what allows
us to sacrifice, to give our best, to go, as the firefighters and police officers
did in the World Trade Center disaster, where others would not go.
If we can help others to see that the work they are doing is larger and
more important than the individual, if we can help people to understand that
public service is honorable and valuable, they will act accordingly. Treating
our fellow public servants with the dignity and respect that they deserve in
public organizations, and empowering them to help find ways to serve their
communities, allows us to attract and empower those who are willing and
able to serve in the public interest. It is the duty, obligation, and privilege of
every public manager to do so. As MacKenzie put it a century ago,
We must try to see once more, as the wisest of Greeks saw, that there is
nothing nobler in human life than politics, in the most comprehensive
sense of that term. Few of us can do much to serve humanity in the widest
sense: the best thing probably on the whole that most of us can do is serve
our country. (MacKenzie 1901, 22)
Chapter 10
The New Public Service in Action
In this chapter we provide a few of the many examples of how the principles
of the New Public Service are being put into practice in democratic governments
across the United States and around the world. We do not claim that
our work provided the catalyst for these initiatives or that the architects of
these programs and projects would even necessarily use the term “New Public
Service.” Indeed, the kinds of activities and practices highlighted in this
chapter are what inspired us to write this book, not the other way around. In
other words, the case studies and examples presented here are intended to
offer some ideas of the kinds of practices we would include under the mantle
of the New Public Service. We hope that in turn these examples will inspire
others to think carefully and creatively about how they might act to reaffirm
democratic values, citizenship, and service in the public interest.
It should be noted that these cases represent only a small glimpse of the
work being done to engage citizens and reinvigorate democratic values in
public service. As Nancy Roberts observes, “Direct citizen participation is
no longer hypothetical. It is very real and public administrators are central to
the evolving story” (2004, 316). In fact, in many ways, “practice is leading
theory” in the area of citizen engagement (Bingham, Nabatchi, and O’Leary
2005, 534). A variety of useful materials on citizen engagement and participation
practices are available. Sources such as the Center for Democracy
and Citizenship at the University of Minnesota (www.publicwork.org/home.
html), the Civic Practices Network (www.cpn.org/), CIVICUS World Alliance
for Citizen Participation (www.civicus.org), the National Center for Public
Productivity at Rutgers University (http://newark.rutgers.edu/~ncpp/ncpp.
html) provide many case studies and examples of citizen engagement. A
search for “citizen participation” on the U.S. government portal (www.firstgov.
gov/) yields well over 200,000 results. In the literature, insights into the
many facets of public engagement in the governance process can be found
in the writings of, for example, Nancy Roberts (2004), Robin Hambleton
(2004), and the contributors to a 2005 Symposium in Public Administration
Review organized by Terry Cooper and his colleagues in the University of
Southern California’s Civic Engagement Initiative (Berry 2005; Bingham,
Nabatchi, and O’Leary 2005; Boyte 2005; Cooper 2005; Kathi and Cooper
2005; Portney 2005).
Listening to the City—The Rebuilding of New York
One of the best known examples of citizen engagement, and perhaps the
most poignant, followed the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC)
in New York. Many strategies—including advisory boards, public meetings,
and mailings—were used in New York to elicit participation by citizens and
interested groups on the fate of the WTC site (www.renewnyc.com). Among
the most innovative, however, was a project called “Listening to the City.”
On July 20, 2002, more than 4,300 people from very diverse backgrounds
met in the Jacob Javits Convention Center to engage in a dialogue about
what should be done with the Trade Center site. This was the largest urban
planning citizen forum to ever take place. A similar but smaller meeting took
place two days later with 800 people, followed by an online dialogue that
involved more than 800 people and the exchange of approximately 10,000
messages. The process and the results were reported as extraordinary, at
least in part for the simple reason that “everyone had a chance to speak and
everyone had a chance to listen” (Civic Alliance 2002, 1).
Not only did citizens listen to and learn from one another, the City of New
York also listened and clearly heeded the citizens’ advice and counsel. On
the first day of the forum, Roland Betts, a member of the Lower Manhattan
Development Corporation (LMDC), reassured the group, “Everyone seems
to fear that the real meeting is going in some other room. Let me tell you
something—this is the real meeting” (Civic Alliance 2002, 3). The result,
according to John Whitehead, the chairman of the LMDC, was “absolutely
beautiful” with 100 percent of the participants in the July 20 forum reporting
they were very satisfied or satisfied with the quality of the dialogue (Civic
Alliance, 2002, 2–3).
The process began when the Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New
York, a coalition of business, community, university, labor, and civic groups,
was formed shortly after September 11, 2001, to develop strategies for redeveloping
Lower Manhattan. The group was convened by the Regional Plan
Association in concert with NYU/Wagner, the New School University, and
the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development
(Civic Alliance 2002, 4). The coalition held an initial forum on February 7,
which involved 600 people and was designed to gain input on elements of a
memorial. Then, in July, the much larger mediated forum was held to gain
citizen reactions to six preliminary alternatives that had been developed by
the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the LMDC, based on
the earlier input.
The July forum used the AmericaSpeaks 21st Century Town Meeting
model (see americaspeaks.org/services/town_meetings/index.htm for more
information). A group of field organizers developed relationships with various
neighborhoods and community organizations and gained their assistance
in recruiting and publicizing the event. The field organizers kept track of
which groups and geographic areas were underrepresented and ran targeted
ads and conducted street outreach so as to be even more representative of
the population (Lukensmeyer and Brigham 2002, 357).
The diversity of the participants is credited as one of the major reasons
the project worked as well as it did (Civic Alliance 2002, 3). There was
diversity in age, racial and ethnic background, geographic location, and
economic background, resulting in a group of people who normally might
never have met. “Relatives of victims, downtown residents, survivors of 9/11,
emergency workers, business leaders, the unemployed and underemployed,
interested citizens and community advocates . . . sat side by side and contributed
myriad points of view” (2). To facilitate dialogue for this large and
diverse group of participants, translators for both the spoken word and sign,
facilitators who spoke Chinese and Spanish, as well as hard copies of the
discussion materials in other languages and Braille, were provided. Grief
counselors were also available. Most participants reported that their motivation
for becoming involved in the forum was a sense of civic responsibility
and a desire to ensure that the rebuilding process was guided by many and
diverse voices.
The forum participants were divided into ten-to-twelve-person discussion
groups. By combining face-to-face dialogue with technology, participant
ideas not only could be heard by members of a particular group but also
could be shared across the forum. A trained facilitator worked with each
group, and ideas were recorded on laptop computers. A group of America-
Speaks volunteers served as “theme teams” who read and summarized the
comments, identified key concepts and ideas, then immediately reported
these back to all the forum participants. The theme team prepared a set of
priorities and questions that emerged from the dialogue, which were posted
on large screens around the room, giving small-group participants a chance to
see other groups’ ideas and to gain feedback on their own ideas. Participants
then used wireless keypads to vote on various questions, with the results of
these polls displayed immediately.
The technology provided an innovative and effective way to ensure that
there was widespread participation and feedback. But perhaps even more
important to the success of the forum was the response of the planners to the
citizens’ ideas. Participants urged decision makers not just to build a memorial,
but to also revitalize the neighborhood in a way that would address the
need of a wide array of citizens and businesses. Particularly important were
the needs of low-income people and immigrants. Many emphasized the need
for affordable housing as well as a diverse business base. They wanted not
only to rebuild buildings, but also to rebuild lives and community by addressing
economic development, job creation, culture, transportation, recreation,
and other civic amenities. The memorial, they said, should not be an afterthought
but rather be inspiring—as one participant said, “a place that gives
back life” (Civic Alliance 2002, 9). Another said, “I hope that the space will
be used in way that promotes peace and understanding and educates people
worldwide to prevent future such occurrences” (14).
The participants’ reaction to the six alternatives presented to them was
that the plans fell short. In fact, “many participants critiqued the plans as
mediocre and lacking the vision necessary to reflect the significance of this
historic moment” (Civic Alliance 2002, 11), and urged the planners to “Start
over!” (12).
So, they did just that—they started over. After the meeting, the governor of
New York “reiterated the citizen’s directives to go back to the drawing board
on site design options, develop mixed-use plans, reduce the density of the
site, and find new solutions to the issue of commercial space” (Lukensmeyer
and Brigham, 2002, 356.) A short time later, the LMDC announced that it
was opening the planning process to six new design teams, and expressed
a commitment to fund transportation initiatives, to spread commercial development
throughout Lower Manhattan, and to allow for more hotel and
retail space in the site plans. In short, “citizens’ voices were heard, and their
recommendations were heeded” (361).
The concerns and priorities of citizens have continued to guide decision
makers as they work to develop and to implement plans for redeveloping Lower
Manhattan. In addition to the development of new plans for the site itself, the
LMDC has committed to a number of off-site revitalization projects to “address
a range of planning, design, and development issues, including: creating usable
open spaces, developing residential uses, expanding and diversifying retail,
leisure, and cultural uses, improving parks and the public realm, and improving
transportation and access conditions” (www.renewnyc.com). For example, in
March 2006, Governor George E. Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced
that the LMDC would award $27.4 million for cultural enhancements
to arts organizations in Lower Manhattan (www.renewnyc.com).
Iowa’s Citizen-Initiated Performance Assessment
Performance measurement is another area of governance where multiple
examples of citizen engagement can be found. Involving citizens in the
design of performance measurement systems can enhance the political
significance and credibility of the measures, as well as increase the usefulness
and relevance of information provided to citizens (Bacova and
Maney 2004). For example, in 1991, with support of the Alfred P. Sloan
Foundation, nine cities in Iowa embarked on the three-year project titled
“Citizen-Initiated Performance Assessment” (CIPA), which engaged
citizens in the design and implementation of performance measurement
in a wide range of programs. The goals of the CIPA project included: (1)
assisting cities to establish a sustainable process for involving citizens
in developing credible and useful performance measures; (2) creating a
dialogue between citizens and government administrators about the roles,
responsibilities, and accountability of local government; and (3) helping
cities to integrate performance measurement into the decision making,
budgeting, and management processes (Ho and Coates 2002a, 8). The
CIPA project was designed to look at performance measurement from a
citizen’s perspective, to enhance collaboration between citizens and public
servants, and to emphasize public dissemination of information to citizens
in a manner that is useful and accessible.
Nine cities of varying size chose to participate in the project, with the
largest being Des Moines, population 200,000, and the smallest being
Carroll, population 10,000. The participating cities represented urban and
suburban, industrial and rural areas from across the state. The CIPA project
was divided into three phases. In the first phase, each city formed what
was called a Citizen Performance Team or “PT.” The composition of these
teams varied from city to city, but the majority of members for each team
were citizens and citizen-group representatives, along with various mixtures
of city officials and staff. In Des Moines, for example, the Performance
Team included representatives from Des Moines Neighbors, an umbrella
organization representing fifty neighborhood groups, a city manager’s staff
representative, and a council member (Ho and Coates 2002b, Case Study,
1). Other cities used newspapers, cable television, and newsletters to recruit
interested citizens or drew from existing citizen groups or committees to find
members. One of the first tasks of these newly formed PTs was to identify
key groups or neighborhoods that were not represented and to recruit new
members as needed, as well as identify groups that needed to be informed of
the team’s activities. Evaluators reported that although concern was initially
expressed that city representatives would come to dominate these teams, it
did not turn out that way. City officials and staff members were purposefully
“very deferential to citizens and . . . served as resources for questions
raised by citizens” (7).
Once the teams were finalized, citizen members were given opportunities
to learn about city departments and operations, examined information
about their cities’ characteristics and demographics, and gained information
about the purposes and practices of performance measurement
(Ho and Coates 2002a, 8). Then, each team identified one or two public
services for which they would develop performance measures. Because
the priorities and concerns of citizens varied from locality to locality,
different PTs chose to focus their attention on different programs and
services. For example, the team from Des Moines chose to look at community
development at the neighborhood level, the team from the City
of Clive chose police and emergency services, the team from the City
of Carroll identified the city’s recreation center. Other cities selected
such areas as street services, public works, libraries services, and snow
Then each Project Team developed a list of “critical elements” for their
selected service area(s). For example, critical elements identified for emergency-
medical services included response time, adequacy of training, and
quality of staff and professionalism, while critical elements for recreational
programs included availability and accessibility, day care, hours, maintenance,
and the quality of instructors. In many cases, the critical elements
selected were similar to those identified in the literature but were different
in at least two important respects.
First, in an area that is often overlooked in other performance-measurement
systems, citizens expressed strong concerns about the need for the city to
better communicate information on performance and results to citizens and
wanted to measure how well city departments were doing so. For example,
in the area of police and fire, citizens wanted to know what happened after
they filed a case, and they wanted progress reports on the department’s
investigation of their cases (Ho and Coates 2002b, Case Study, 5). Second,
while citizens were concerned about the effectiveness of programs, they also
cared about the degree to which the individual public servants were “professional,
courteous, and non-discriminatory” in their interactions with citizens
(5). In other words, they wanted more open communication lines and useful
and assessable information on what the city was doing, and they wanted to
ensure that city employees treated citizens respectfully, professionally, and
without discrimination.
The teams then developed performance measurements based on the critical
elements that they had identified. Members were provided with professional
assistance to facilitate these discussions. They used a worksheet developed
by the CIPA project staff that they found useful as a means for the team
to evaluate their own proposed measures. These forms asked members to
consider whether the proposed measures were, for example, understandable,
measurable, reasonable in terms of cost and time, and useful to citizens (Ho
and Coates 2002b, Case Study, Appendix, 2).
Again, the measures in many cases were similar to those identified in
professional publications, but evaluators of the project highlighted several
important findings that resulted from the process, illustrating the unique
contributions of citizens to the design of performance measurement systems.
In general, although citizens were concerned about outcomes, they
were not singularly focused on outcomes. They also cared about process
issues such as the courtesy of city employees and input measures such as
training provided to police officers and medical personnel. Equity issues
were also more important than might have been expected. For example,
citizens expressed the concern that library and recreational services be
accessible to low-income and disabled people and a wide range of ages.
Surprisingly (at least to advocates of the Old Public Administration and
the New Public Management), citizens were relatively uninterested in
efficiency. They expressed more concern about the process, outcomes,
and equity of services than merely cost measures. Citizens also wanted
performance measurement information available at the street and neighborhood
level, where services are actually delivered. Citizens emphasized the
use of citizen surveys and user surveys to evaluate public programs (Ho
and Coates 2002b, Case Study, 6). In general, “citizens in all nine cities
felt a great need to let citizens know what the city government does, how
effectively it is done, and what follow-up actions have been taken after
citizens voice their opinions and complaints” (7).
In the second stage of the project, citizen performance teams helped design
a system for data collection and, in some cases, helped collect the data
through citizen surveys and other means. The teams then continued to work
with the city councils and city staff to integrate performance data into the
budget and policymaking processes.
The process has not been without challenges. Participating cities have found
it difficult to sustain citizen involvement over time. Cities also report that it has
been a challenge to gain adequate media coverage of the Performance Teams’
work. Nonetheless, the experience of the CIPA project has “been positive in
all cities” (Ho and Coates 2002b, Case Study, 8). In the Final Report on the
CIPA project (2005), evaluators commented on a numbers of “lessons learned”
from the experience, including the following observations:
• Citizens have very little problem understanding performance measurement
and different types of measures (i.e., input, output, and
• The process of involving citizens along with city elected and appointed
officials is very feasible and can lead to good working
relationships and joint understanding about what constitutes quality
service delivery.
• The CIPA process is being recognized nationally as a significant
contribution to building better public accountability and democratic
governance in city government (Final Report 2005, 8–9).
National Park Service Civic Engagement Initiative
If you visit the National Parks Service (NPS) website on civic engagement
(www.nps.gov/civic/index.html), you will find the following statement:
The Civic Engagement initiative is the National Park Service’s challenge
to itself, to find new ways to revitalize its mission of preserving and interpreting
our nation’s natural and cultural heritage. Forming meaningful
partnerships with the very people most invested in the parks ensures the
long-term relevance of NPS resources and programs.
Engaging the public is by no means a new activity for the National
Park Service. This Civic Engagement initiative, however, takes that
directive to a new level of commitment, formally establishing it as the
essential foundation and framework for developing plans and programs
for our parks.
The Civic Engagement initiative grew out of a 2001 report by the NPS
Advisory Board that urged rethinking the purpose and role of national parks
as “not just recreation destinations, but springboards, for personal journeys
of intellectual and cultural enrichment” (all quoted material in this section
is taken from www.nps.gov/civic/about/index.html unless otherwise specified).
NPS Director’s Order #75A formalized the commitment to do so: “to
embrace civic engagement as the essential foundation and framework for
creating plans and developing programs.” The objective is to go beyond the
minimum requirements for public involvement to institutionalize a philosophy
of civic engagement that keeps the larger aspect of “public service and
public trust in mind.” The directive also states simply but powerfully that to
do so, the NPS “must first actively welcome the public and listen to what
they have to say.” The “public” is defined broadly to include any person or
organization interested in, served by, or who serves in any NPS program or
program. The number of activities and programs undertaken in response to
this initiative has been impressive. A few of the activities are highlighted
here, but summaries of many more activities can be found on the NPS website
For example, the NPS Manzanar National Historic Site in California is
located in one of the ten camps that interned Japanese Americans in “war
relocation centers” during World War II. The manner in which the site depicts
this history is both important and controversial, with some suggesting
that the story told about the internment should inform social visitors about
an important denial of constitutional rights and others accusing the NPS of
succumbing to the “Japanese American propaganda machine” and failing
to tell the truth about the centers. Because most of the camp is no longer
visible, the Japanese-American community urged the NPS to reconstruct
portions of the camp to remind visitors of this important historical site
in terms of civil rights, rather than allowing the site to simply become a
“summer camp in the mountains.” Reconstruction is usually discouraged
by the NPS because it is not authentic and typically cannot be completely
historically accurate. Preservation, rehabilitation, and restoration of sites is
usually preferred unless strict criteria can be met, including a requirement
that there be no other alternative and that enough information exists to allow
an accurate reconstruction.
But when it became clear that the Japanese-American community and
others wanted reconstruction, the NPS listened. Based on the work of a
citizens advocacy group, public comment, and the active engagement of
the Japanese-American community, the reconstruction of the camp is under
way, ensuring that the important story of Japanese-American internments
will be told.
In a very different kind of program, the NPS engaged in an educational
project at the Marsh-Billing-Rockefeller National Historical Park titled “A
Forest for Every Classroom.” This program trains teachers to teach their
students about the concept of “place” and consequently to be “more eager
to learn and be involved in the stewardship of their communities and public
lands.” With the help of Shelburne Farms, the Conservation Study Institute,
the Green Mountain National Forest, and the Northeast Office of the National
Wildlife Federation, the NPS Historical Park developed a program for
teachers to develop an interdisciplinary curriculum that “integrates hands-on
exploration of ecology, sense of place, stewardship and civics.” A key ele178
ment of the project has been to enhance citizenship skills by teaching and
modeling the facilitation of dialogue about issues on which there are diverse
perspectives. An evaluation of the program two years after its inception found
a number of strengths, including “offering diverse and balanced perspectives”
and “engaging students as stewards through service-learning.”
In a more urban setting, the NPS, based on citizen engagement and dialogue,
reversed a decision about the excavation of the now underground site
of the James Dexter home on Independence Mall in Philadelphia. James
Dexter was a central figure in the creation of one of America’s first independent
black churches, and his home was used to plan for the establishment of
the African Black Episcopal Church of St. Thomas. Initially, the NPS had
decided to allow construction of a bus drop-off facility on the land over the
house, because construction would not disturb the archaeological resources
of the underground site. But the community felt differently. After a series
of community meetings and consultations with church representatives and
other interested groups and organizations, strong support for excavation of
the site was voiced. Ultimately, the NPS decided to reverse its decision and,
by doing so, strengthened community relationships, particularly the links
between the African-American community and the NPS.
To further enhance these community linkages and the communication
that had developed, the NPS continued to make the group a part of the excavation
process. The NPS explained the process to them and invited them
to see the findings in the laboratory. The NPS sustained public interest in
part by constructing a viewing platform from which community members
could watch the work being done, by issuing regular press releases about the
project’s progress, and by facilitating a cooperative effort by local institutions
and organizations to develop a documentary film about the dig to be shown
on public television. As the Reverend Jeffrey Leath of Mother Bethel AME
Church stated, “It’s a real victory for reason. [NPS] listened. They processed
the arguments, and responded with reason.”
New Public Service in Greenville, Wisconsin
David Tebo, the town administrator of Greenville, Wisconsin, writes, “I’m
sure most people think their community is unique and offers something more
and different than any other community. As a resident and Town Administrator
for Greenville, WI, I feel the same way about my Town” (Tebo 2006). Tebo
and the town of Greenville have been working hard over the past several
years to find ways to implement the values of the New Public Service. He
has gained some important insights that teach us about the creativity and
commitment to democratic ideals that are alive and well in local government.
Most of the words in this section are his, excerpted and directly quoted from
his writings on his work (Tebo 2006).
Any municipal administrator could go on for hours about exciting and
innovative projects that their local government has put into practice. In
many ways we are all very similar as we struggle to deal with our own
little realm of the republic. But I see what is going on in Greenville from
another viewpoint. Greenville is one of those fast-growing urban Towns
on the edge of a metropolitan area where development is happening at a
fast pace. Over 1200 new residential lots were created between 2003–06
and approximately 200 single-family permits issued each year. Like the
old-time western frontier, the Town’s farmland is being gobbled up by
subdivisions; rural highways and gas stations are being replaced by fourlane
expressways with limited access and establishments to service the
new population.
Most of the innovation and new ideas that have emerged from the
Greenville growth experience did not come from the enlightened minds
of a few Town Board members, but through an intense struggle of creative
citizen participation as development encroached on established populations
and land uses. New neighborhoods, parks, trails, utilities and roads were
springing up everywhere and citizens wanted to play a role in how their
world was being re-made.
What, I believe, is different about Greenville is that faced with growth
issues a fairly progressive Town Board attempted to create an environment
within which citizen participation could be a vital part of policy creation.
They wanted to nurture an attitude and optimism that citizens could go
beyond maximizing their self-interests and help define the common good.
We have not always succeeded, many of our citizens will be the first to
tell you this, but some of our attempts are noteworthy, especially as illustration
of the principles of the New Public Service at work. The Board
was willing to take some accountability risks outside of the bottom-line
entrepreneurial box and invest in programs and projects that might not
have a short-term financial benefit but could show huge results down the
road: To entrust a small group of citizens with the funds and freedom to
try to create value in their community; to create educational opportunities
for citizens so that decisions could be made with the best information
and practices in mind; and to listen and incorporate suggestions into new
policies and ordinances.
One project that Tebo highlights is the Greenprint Planning Process. When
faced with the question of how to “keep the green in Greenville” with all the
development that was taking place, a working committee of local residents
and landowners was established to help explore the issue (University of
Wisconsin Extension 2005, 4). The goal of this committee was to identify
what was significant about Greenville from a historic, cultural, scenic, and
personal perspective. Using cameras and pen and paper, pairs of citizens went
into the community to document the things they valued about Greenville. They
then met over the next six months to prioritize their choices, which included
“barns, native vegetation, cemeteries, schools, [the] historic Yellowstone Trail
Route, physical features, woods wetlands, wildlife habitat, and view sheds,
just to name a few” (4–5). This information now can be used to inform decision
making about “where development should go and what is important to
preserve for the future” (5).
Another example of the New Public Service being put into action is described
by Tebo as follows:
As the Town grappled with ways to deal with development outside of
the sanitary district in rural Greenville, the Town Board realized that
they or the planning commission did not have enough knowledge necessary
to decide on a course of action. They enlisted the help of a local
University of Wisconsin-Extension Professor to organize and lead a
six-month course on rural development practices for a group of Town
stakeholders including the Town Board, Planning Commission, area
landowners, citizens and developers. A speaker series was organized
with topics such as: Conservation subdivisions, PDR and TDR Programs,
Farmland preservation, Protection Water resources and aquifer recharge
areas etc. Following the educational process the Board adopted many
of the stakeholder group recommendations and revamped the Town
subdivision and zoning ordinances.
According to Tebo, another of the most important ways that the Town of
Greenville is working to uphold the values of the New Public Service is the
manner in which individual issues, problems, and concerns are handled in
order to build trust, enhance citizenship, and maintain positive community
relationships. He recalls a particular controversial issue dealing with the
possible consolidation of the local Greenville Volunteer Fire Department
with the fire department in a neighboring community. This consolidation
had been recommended based on the findings of a blue ribbon panel. The
existing volunteer firefighters were adamantly opposed to the idea. The
issue came to a head one night when about fifty Greenville firefighters, in
full uniform, walked into Town Hall threatening a walk-out. As Tebo writes,
“It doesn’t get much juicier than this in local government politics. . . . After
several heated exchanges and more demands by the Fire Department
the Town Board retired to an interior office with the Town Attorney and
Town Administrator to prepare a response to the demands that had been
made.” The initial response of the group was to refuse to negotiate with
the firefighters, and “the atmosphere was primed for a quick angry decision
to show the Fire Department who was in charge.” As the discussion
progressed, however,
Gradually a different opinion began to emerge. One Board member spoke
eloquently about the tremendous investment and sacrifices that most of
the Fire Department members have made in the community over the last
years. . . . Another Board member saw clearly that if we responded in kind
[to the firefighters], we would be likely to increase the cleavage in our
broken community. He said we needed to be willing to sacrifice our current
position in the interest of mutuality with the conviction that a stronger
and better relationship and community can be forged in the future. Some
financial savings would be of little significance compared with the loss of
volunteer service and loyalty of 50 community members.
As Tebo states, “The Board knew that consolidation . . . made sense from
a purely financial and bureaucratic viewpoint, but when viewed from the
perspective of loss of social capital and overall contribution to the community,
keeping the Volunteer Department made even more sense. Ultimately, it
was recognized that these volunteer firefighters were highly committed and
active citizens who wanted to help their community.” In one sense, although
the Town Board thought they might look “weak” in the short term, they
decided to support the citizen volunteers, a decision that had tremendous
benefits for the community. Tebo comments, “This community, four years
after the proposed walk-out, has one of the best and most active Volunteer
Fire Departments in the State.”
Civic Engagement Around the World
The ideals and practices associated with the New Public Service are not exclusively
American. The New Public Service has been translated into Chinese
and has been debated and discussed in a wide range of locations around the
globe, from the Netherlands to Brazil, from Korea to Italy and Sweden and
beyond. Our participation in some of these discussions has reinforced our
excitement about and the possibilities of civic engagement and democratic
values in the governance process. Not surprisingly, efforts to enact New
Public Service values differ not only from jurisdiction to jurisdiction in the
United States but also among different countries around the world. Yet the
themes are similar: to try to find new and innovative ways to improve citizen
engagement and build communities around a framework of shared values
and democratic dialogue. (In the following two sections, Lena Langlet from
Sweden and Manuella Cocci from Italy write about efforts to implement the
New Public Service in their countries. All quoted material is taken from
personal correspondence.)
Our colleague Lena Langlet is the project manager for Participation Democracy-
Citizen Consultation of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities
and Regions. In Sweden, as in the United States, there is concern about a
decrease in public participation and trust. The number of elected officials in
local government is large by American standards. Stockholm, for example,
has 101 delegates in the Municipal Council. Because of declining participation,
in some communities it is difficult for small political parties to find an
adequate number of candidates. Langlet writes, “Perhaps in a country like
Sweden with a lengthy period of democracy and peace the individual citizen
takes for granted somebody else will care for the functioning of democracy.”
In Sweden this development has meant that “Helping every citizen to take
responsibility and engage in the democratic process is one of the greatest
challenges of municipalities for safeguarding the development of democracy
in an ever more globalized society.”
Langlet provides the following examples of New Public Service in action
in Sweden:
A fundamental precondition for a citizen’s being able to participate in
local governance is possessing knowledge and accurate information as
to what municipal service citizens might expect. In Sweden, several municipalities
are working to make their services more evident [transparent]
by establishing special service guarantees. They have also linked these
guarantees to complaint handling. Municipalities are doing so in order to
enable citizens or users to deliver their views and complaints about city
services and to work together with the local government to maintain the
appropriate level of service quality.
For example, in 2004 the Kungsbacka community introduced a system
for citizens to voice their views and complaints in various ways to the
municipality: by letter, via the internet or by a personal visit. A comprehensive
and professional marketing campaign was carried out when introducing
the system. Every household received an information booklet and
a refrigerator magnet with the address and phone number as a reminder.
The municipality registers all incoming complaints and responds by letter
within four days. Within 10 working days after that, a decision is made
about how to resolve the complaint. The municipality accounts for incoming
views and complaints and the results on its homepage. Three times a
year, politicians and the activity representatives receive a compilation of
all the comments and measures carried out. The system and the dialogue
contribute to improved services and give political leadership information
for decision making.
Langlet also writes about Swedish local governments working to engage
citizens in planning activities:
The Sigtuna municipality is situated outside Stockholm along Lake
Mälaren. The municipality consists of an older town center, urban as well
and rural areas. The Arlanda airport [the international airport serving
Stockholm] is situated in the Sigtuna municipality. In 2004, the municipality
decided to give the citizens a greater influence in town-planning
matters. In 2005 and 2006 the municipality has carried out 10 public
meetings devoted to topical urban planning matters. Every one of these
was devoted to a specific issue or area. For example: What will the park
look like when we start building a new school? Shall we open a new road
or continue keeping it closed?
On every matter, concerned citizens in a particular geographic area have
been given the chance to vote for alternatives proposed by the municipality.
The citizens have been able to vote via the internet or by letters. In the wake
of every consultation great efforts have been undertaken through personal
letters, daily press, the internet and information meetings on the spot.
In order to further illustrate the proposals, efforts have been undertaken
visually to illustrate what it is all going to look like. For example, a long
cake was baked to show the aspects of a proposed road, and local festival
visitors received written information about the proposal. Two balloons
were elevated to illustrate the height of a building according to various
alternatives. The elected representatives also visited the area during the
electoral period to answer questions and receive ideas. According to the
municipal commissioner these meetings have yielded much more than
information about how the particular question is considered because the
citizens have taken the opportunity to give their opinions about several
aspects of their neighborhood. Community members participating in the
various neighborhood consultations have ranged from a maximum 64%
of residents and a minimum of 27%.
The political majority in the municipality promised to abide by the
consultation results, which they have done. The municipality commissioner
says that this job is the most fun she has had during her long period as
an active politician and that she has engaged with the citizens in a new
way and acquired knowledge about how they look upon living in Sigtuna
Local governments in Sweden are also working to engage young people
in community life and the democratic process. For example, the Stockholm
suburb of Botkyrka is one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the
country, with some hundred nationalities and ethnicities. A municipal youth
council was established in 2003, made up of students aged thirteen to twentytwo,
who were asked to consider matters related to education and youth recreation.
“The youth council is considered very successful both because working
with it has provided practice in democratic ways of work for students, but also
because it has given young people from different parts of the municipality
occasions to encounter and understand each other,” Langlet reported.
The civic education and engagement of youth has also been a focus of
the municipality of Kungsbacka, population 70,000, on the west coast of
Sweden. Langlet explains,
A couple of years ago, one of the municipal commissioners attended a
lecture given by a head of a private company who told about having young
fellow workers act as his mentors. This inspired the municipal commissioner
to contact one of the secondary schools of the municipality to ask if
students attending their social program wanted to become his “mentors.”
The school reacted very favorably to the idea and this year, 22 pupils became
his mentors. They have come together frequently at school or at the
Municipal Hall to discuss topical issues of the municipality. The pupils
think this has given them a great deal of knowledge about the way political
decisions are made, and report that they have the capacity to influence
decisions and have been taken seriously.
The municipal commissioner thinks the pupils have given him knowledge
about the way young people think and what they think about their
home municipality. It is also interesting to see how engaged young people
are in such questions as access to libraries, local traffic and service issues,
although school matters have been among the most frequently discussed.
The first mentors now have finished secondary school but already the
commissioner has made himself a new group of mentors to continue work
with him because, in his opinion, the experience has been very positive
and yielded both him and the pupils’ new insights.
As in U.S. local government, efforts by Swedish municipalities are just
at the beginning of a long process of building and sustaining citizen engagement.
As Langlet puts it, “Although all of the Swedish municipalities try to
increase the citizens’ engagement, we can’t say that we have fully succeeded.
The next step is to improve and find new methods where citizens’ views of
public service will play a larger part in the decision-making process as a
complement to representative democracy.”
Public servants in Italy are also searching for new ways to engage citizens.
Our colleague from the University of Siena, Manuella Cocci, sent us her assessment
of the New Public Service in action in her country. She points to
the province of Turin’s use of deliberative democracy in handling a NIMBY
(not in my backyard) problem related to the location of two waste treatment
facilities (this case study appears in Bobbio 2005.)
She writes,
In 2000, because of their experience with previous citizen protests, the
Department of the Environment of the Province of Turin established
the project “Don’t refuse to make a choice” to encourage direct citizen
involvement in the decision making process concerning the location of
an incinerator and a landfill. The first step was the implementation of
an information campaign. Over four months, citizens were informed
about facts and risks associated with the facilities. Brochures and guides
were distributed in cafes and many other public places. An effort was
made to ensure that these materials represented a variety of views and
A commission was then established including representatives from
every local community: one representative from the council, and one from
the citizens committee, and one from the provider of garbage collection.
The deliberations of the commission were characterized by unconstrained
discussion using multiple criteria. All of the alternatives were argued and
everyone had the opportunity to propose a solution. In the process, questions
of both efficiency and social aspects were considered. The commission
accomplished both of its goals: to establish the standards to define
the list of locations, and then to propose the name of the locations while
respecting the standards and the Territorial Plan of the Province; and to
identify the contract guarantees to the communities who will be most
disadvantaged by the new facilities.
The experience of the City of Bolzano provides a different approach to
citizen engagement. Cocci explains,
Bolzano is the main city of one of the two bilingual Italian regions; in
the past it suffered more than other local governments the lack of political
interest. The high rate of conflicts in this region is partly related to
the presence of different ethnic groups; but the problem is more complex
than that. To better understand and deal with this conflict, Bolzano initiated
a project to conduct anthropologic territorial research. A work team
of practitioners and public administrators involved citizens in defining
a map of the conflicts classified by their location. The local government
realized that even if the citizen interest and involvement had decreased
over the years, members of the local community were willing to explain
their interests and their needs. So, the problem was not to gain the attention
of citizens. Rather, the challenge was to negotiate and develop synergic
relationships within and across neighbourhoods. In the second step of the
process in 2004, the pilot neighbourhood—Oltreisarco Asiago—started
a participative and integrated process for developing a plan of development.
The process had a number of objectives: to define urban space; to
identify problems and issues; to give more visibility to the city centre as
a meeting place for the citizens; to improve the connection between the
neighbourhood and the natural environment; and to facilitate the building
of social networks.
On the basis of the citizens’ needs and requests, a list of projects was
proposed. For example, one project was the construction of the cycle track
in the main neighbourhood street. This specific project, and others, provided
the opportunity for citizens to work with public servants to discuss
specific ideas, but also other relevant changes to the neighbourhood, in a
dynamic and integrated process.
In 2005, the Strategic Plan of the City of Bolzano won the Department
for Public Administration (Dipartimento della Funzione Pubblica) Prize
for being one of the most creative and well-done examples of a local
government planning document in Italy. The strategic planning process
was characterized by negotiation and participation. From the first, the
town council met with key social actors, institutions, cultural experts, staff
from other public local organizations and services. Then, the department
established an information centre in the city in order to explain, on the
basis of pilot ideas, what kind of changes could be proposed.
Ad hoc work teams (called “cantieri”) were formed by citizens, external
experts, and public administrators to identify and solve the problems of
the community. A quantitative and qualitative measurement of citizens’
desires was conducted: the citizens were asked to define the score of importance
of 25 ideas; from those 25 main ideas emerged 8 that were most
important for the citizens. Beyond these main ideas, the teams of discussion
defined strategic decisions and operational objectives by which to put
into practice the general targets. In May 2006, the final strategic plan was
approved. The Strategic Plan process improved the interactivity between
public administrators and citizens based on a culture of participation and
an “active listening democracy.”
Although many such efforts in Italy and elsewhere are relatively new,
Cocci also writes about what she calls “an old Italian experience of citizen
engagement” in the city of Grottammare.
Although in the 1990s most European Local Governments were characterized
by New Public Management reforms, Grottammare, a small
Municipality in the Centre of Italy, distinguished itself from the others
by using citizen engagement to develop solutions to the problems they
faced. Instead of looking to public sector models and ideas, Grottammare,
through the political movement “Solidarity and Participation” (Solidarietà
e Partecipazione), found a method to listen to the citizens, and set up, for
the first time in the city, neighbourhood associations and neighbourhood
committees as a means of fostering communication and participation. These
neighbourhood associations and committees remain the most important
tools of external communication, involving non-profit organizations,
service providers and citizens. As a result, the city is able to make public
policy supported by shared interests and shared responsibilities.
In the ten years of participation experience, qualitative research on the
results found that: (1) the first neighbourhoods to take part to the participation
process were the ones with most problematic situations; (2) approximately
124 decision processes were developed in ten years of citizen
participation; (3) almost 90% of the citizens’ propositions were realized;
(4) in general, opportunistic individual interests were substituted by the
public interest; and (5) the city’s development is faster than the Local
Government decisions taken without citizen involvement.
In 2004, the City of Grottammare won the “Roberto Villirillo—Good
Practices in Public Services Award ” (Premio Roberto Villirillo-Buone
pratiche nei servizi di pubblica utilità) given by CittadinanzaAttiva (www.
The Future of the New Public Service
The New Public Service requires that we rethink organizational processes,
structures, and rules to open access and participation to those we serve in
all phases of the governance process. It is not a blueprint for a structure or
a quantifiable objective to be met. It is an ideal, based on the immeasurable
but critical values of democracy, citizenship, and the public interest. We do
not attempt to operationalize the tenets of the New Public Service because,
even if it were possible, doing so is not the point. The process of striving
for the ideals of service in the public interest is the heart of the matter, not
a determination of what full implementation or final accomplishment might
look like. The point is to do a better job than we have before.
In one sense, the future of the New Public Service will be determined
by all of us. Whether we are students or teachers, public servants or privatesector
employees, American or Italian or Brazilian, each of us can make
a difference in our communities, in our organizations, and in our world.
The questions we face are at once both simple and enormously complex:
How will we treat our neighbors? Will we take responsibility for our role
in democratic governance? Are we willing to listen to and try to understand
views that are different from our own? Are we willing to forgo our personal
interests for the sake of others? Are we willing to change our minds?
The New Public Service is and will continue to be realized in both small
moments and large activities, in conversations and public pronouncements,
in formal rules and informal behavior. The ideas and approaches outlined in
this chapter hopefully offer a glimpse into the kinds of efforts that organizations
and individuals in towns and cities and states, and at the national level,
are experimenting with to try to enhance citizen engagement and service in
the public interest.
Chapter 11
In the preceding chapters, we have presented a theoretical framework that
gives full priority to democracy, citizenship, and service in the public interest.
We have called this framework the New Public Service. We have argued
that the New Public Service offers an important and viable alternative to
both the traditional and the now-dominant managerialist model of public
management. It is an alternative that has been built on the basis of theoretical
explorations and practical innovations in public agencies. The result is
a normative model, comparable to other such models.
We began with a description of what we called the Old Public Administration
or the orthodoxy of the field. We suggested that, under the Old Public
Administration, the purpose of government was simply to deliver services
efficiently, and that problems were to be addressed primarily by changing the
organization’s structure and control systems. While some in the field called
for greater attention to democratic values, the voices calling for hierarchy and
control, little citizen involvement, and neutral expertise largely prevailed.
More recently, the New Public Management has come to dominate thought
and action in the field of public administration. The New Public Management,
as we have seen, is grounded in the idea that the best way to understand human
behavior is to assume that governmental and other actors make choices
and undertake action based on their own self-interest. In this view, the role of
government is to unleash market forces so as to facilitate individual choice
and to achieve efficiency. Citizens are seen as customers, and problems are
addressed by manipulating incentives. Public servants are expected to be
entrepreneurial risk takers who get the “best deals” and reduce costs.
In contrast, we have made an argument for what we call the New Public
Service. We have suggested that public administrators should begin with the
recognition that an engaged and enlightened citizenship is critical to democratic
governance. We assert that this “high” citizenship is both important
and achievable because human behavior not only is a matter of self-interest,
but also involves values, beliefs, and a concern for others. Citizens are seen
as the owners of government and as capable of acting together in pursuit of
the greater good. Accordingly, we have argued that the public interest transcends
the aggregation of individual self-interests. The New Public Service
seeks shared values and common interests through widespread dialogue and
citizen engagement. Public service itself is seen as an extension of citizenship,
motivated by desire to serve others and to achieve public objectives.
From this perspective, the role of public administrator is to bring people “to
the table” and to serve citizens in a manner that recognizes the multiple and
complex layers of responsibility, ethics, and accountability in a democratic
system. The responsible administrator should work to engage citizens not only
in planning, but also implementing programs to achieve public objectives.
This is done not only because it makes government work better, but because
it is consistent with our values. The job of the public administrator is not
primarily control or the manipulation of incentives; it is service. In this model,
democratic ideals and respect for others not only permeate our interactions
with citizens, but also are modeled within public organizations.
In short, we have argued for a model of New Public Service based on
citizenship, democracy, and service in the public interest as an alternative to
the now dominant model based on economic theory and self-interest. While
debates among theorists will continue and while administrative practitioners
will test and explore new possibilities, it is important to acknowledge that
this is not just an abstract debate. The actions that public administrators take
will differ markedly depending on the types of assumptions and principles
upon which those actions are based. If we assume that the responsibility of
government is to facilitate individual self-interest, we will take one set of
actions. If, on the other hand, we assume that the responsibility of government
is to promote citizenship, public discourse, and the public interest,
we will take an entirely different set of actions. As stated in Street-Level
[O]ne of the most potent and effective ways to influence practice is to
change the theory and language used to understand that practice. . . . From
this perspective, it is not an overstatement to suggest that the capacity of
the governance system and efficacy of public administration as a component
of that system are products of the acceptance of a particular set of
theories which undergird them. (Vinzant and Crothers 1998, 143–44)
Put simply, the theories we ascribe to matter. Theories, values, and beliefs
are what facilitate or constrain, encourage or discourage particular kinds of
action. Consider, for example, the implications for action of the following
two statements: (1) “The customers are waiting to see us,” and (2) “The
owners are waiting to see us.” In the first instance, we may respond to the
preferences of each individual, in the order that they appear, in the most
efficient manner possible. We respond as politely and as quickly as possible
to their demands. When we have completed the transaction, the relationship
is over until the next demand is made. The customer is satisfied and goes
away. In the second case, the people we serve are the owners. In responding
to owners, we recognize that each owner has a stake in what we do and that
the guidance and involvement of all owners are both needed and appropriate.
They are allowed to keep their dignity and are treated with respect in the
context of a long-term relationship. We recognize that instead of responding
only to the self-interest of each, we must engage in an extended conversation
about the larger public interest. In short, there are clear practical and
behavioral implications in the ways we see, understand, and talk about the
people we serve. As we change how we think and how we talk, we will
change what we do.
It is also important to note that, while changing a single word can have
important implications for how we think and behave, realizing the values of
the New Public Service will require simultaneous attention to all the factors
and principles discussed in this book. The New Public Service is a call for
not only a redefinition of how we see the citizens we serve, but also a change
in how we see ourselves and our responsibilities—how we treat each other,
how we define our purpose and goals, how we evaluate ourselves and others,
how we make decisions, how we view success and failure, and how we think
about the legitimacy of our actions. It refocuses our attention on the ideals
of democracy and the public interest, of citizenship and human dignity, of
service and commitment as the foundation of everything we do.
So the lessons and principles of New Public Service are not sequential
steps or a linear process; all rely on and are expressions of the same core
principles. They form the interdependent threads of the whole fabric of public
service. Without each other, they are simply frayed pieces of the newest
management fashion. They become “looks” or styles of management without
the substance—briefly tried and then abandoned when the desired results
cannot be consistently and continually shown.
In the concluding chapter of The Pursuit of Significance (1993), Denhardt
argued that the central and most basic concept in traditional views of
management was the idea of self-interest. He pointed out that standard approaches
to management flow from the assumption of self-interest, whether
pay and performance, motivation and control, communication and conflict.
He then asked:
What if we turned the whole thing upside down and suggested that what
is central to the operation . . . of public organizations is not a concern for
self-interest but the pursuit of significance? This would change the way
we think about public organizations in some very interesting ways. Using
this new assumption, for example, wouldn’t we want to state more clearly
what is significant about the work of the organization so that people could
focus their energy and excitement? Wouldn’t we want to place the needs
of clients and citizens at the forefront of all our activities? Wouldn’t we
want to give persons throughout our organizations the strength and power
and responsibility to be significant? And wouldn’t we want everything we
do to be touched, indeed propelled by a commitment to public service? In
others words, wouldn’t we be doing all of those things that the best public
managers already seem to be doing? (Denhardt 1993, 276)
The New Public Service is not just the latest management fad or technique.
It is, instead, a definition of who we are and why we serve others. It is a
fundamental reordering of values. We don’t embrace these values because
they increase satisfaction, motivation, retention, effectiveness, and service
and improve decision making (although we would argue that they do). Rather,
we simply act on them because we believe they are, and always have been,
integral components of American democracy.
Decades ago, Herbert Kaufman (1956) suggested that, while administrative
institutions are organized and operated in pursuit of different values
at different times, during the period in which one idea is dominant, others
are never totally neglected. Building on this idea, it makes sense to think of
one normative model as prevailing at any point in time, with the other (or
others) playing a somewhat lesser role within the context of the prevailing
view. Currently, the New Public Management and its surrogates have been
established as the dominant paradigm in the field of governance and public
administration. In this process, a concern for democratic citizenship and the
public interest has not been fully lost, but it has been subordinated.
We would argue, however, that in a democratic society, a concern for
democratic values should be paramount in the way we think about systems
of governance. Values such as efficiency and productivity should not be lost,
but should be placed in the larger context of democracy, community, and the
public interest. In terms of the normative models we have examined here, the
New Public Service clearly seems most consistent with the basic foundations
of democracy in this country and, therefore, provides a framework within
which other valuable techniques and values, including the best elements of
the Old Public Administration and the New Public Management, might be
played out. The New Public Service provides a rallying point around which
we might envision a public service based on and fully integrated with civic
discourse and the public interest.
How do we realize these ideals? As individual public servants, each of us
has the opportunity and responsibility to serve others in the public interest,
though, at present, many of us wouldn’t, or couldn’t, express it this way.
Rather, we might say that we have the responsibility to process claims,
investigate cases, process paperwork, teach classes, supervise workers, or
answer the phone. But if we think about how we can contribute to service in
the public interest and to building active citizenship, it not only changes how
we feel about our work, but also how we approach our daily tasks. As Louis
Gawthrop suggests, “To labor in the service of democracy is to recognize
that all of us are called, in varying degrees of responsibility, to be watchmen,
sentinels, or prophets for others—any others—as well as for one another, in
attempting to attain the common good” (1998, 100).
Perhaps we should each start with ourselves. Think about what brought
you to the public service. What gives your work meaning? Do you remember
feeling when you started your public service career that you were about to
become part of something important? How can you do your job in a way
that affirms these larger purposes? What can you do to reawaken in yourself
that feeling of purpose, of calling, or of service? Through this process of
self-reflection, we can begin to rediscover our desire to serve our fellow
citizens and to think about our public service work in a way that celebrates
its “soul” and meaning.
We are often struck by how our students, many of whom are midcareer
public servants, react to classroom discussions about the values and
meaning of the public service and their role in enacting those values.
Their attention is captured; they listen more carefully to each other, and
the conversation is more charged with emotion. Reticent students become
engaged and involved. Many seem excited and almost grateful to have the
chance to talk about what public service means to them. Some confess
that they had never thought about the larger meaning and societal value of
their work. Perhaps most telling is the frequency of such comments as, “I
wish my supervisor/employees felt this way (and talked this way) about
the public service.”
Most of us probably do value the significance, the meaning, the “soul” of
public service. We just don’t think or talk about it very much. Or worst of all,
we think it applies to someone other than ourselves. In our efforts to improve
productivity and efficiency, we seem to have lost the ability to speak with
passion about each other and about what we do. Perhaps our speech and our
professional self-identity have instead become overrun with words and concepts
like efficiency, deadlines, productivity, measures, objectives, analysis,
performance, alignment, structure, customers, and procedures. Consider how
we talk about our work to other people. If we fail to talk about the public service
in a way that reflects its inherent value and societal meaning, we contribute
to the loss of the soul of the field—a loss that robs us of our own excitement
and satisfaction, and robs citizens of our caring and commitment. If we fail
to infuse our own professional identity, as well as our conversations with others,
with words and phrases like public service, citizenship, public interest,
meaning, values, ethics, community, and democracy, to name just a few, we
miss opportunities to enhance and advance the heart of public service.
Self-reflection is both important and difficult. It is only through self-reflection
that we can develop our capacity to serve others and recapture the pride we
are missing as public servants. Through the process, we can strive to be proud
without being arrogant; to be strong without being morally insensitive; to be
respectful without being timid; to be vigilant without being oppressive; to be
cautious without letting fear control us; and to be caring without being patronizing.
Finding this balance through honest self-reflection is hard work, but it can
make each of us a better person, a better citizen, and a better public servant.
We are convinced that, at the core, public servants want to do something
that matters and has value. If that is true, it is critical that we find a voice in
ourselves that applauds, recognizes, and advances these ideas. We need to
find and use the words. The next time you talk to an employee, a student, a
colleague, or even a friend, ask yourself how your speech reflects the soul of
public administration. Think about the specific words and phrases you use.
Do they motivate and inspire? As public servants we would be well served
if each of us consciously, deliberately, and frequently reminded ourselves
and others that what we do profoundly matters.
As we said earlier, if we change how we think and talk, we also change
how we behave. What do we think about the people we serve? Are they simply
cases to be dispensed with as quickly as possible? Are they, fundamentally,
unlike us? Do we treat the people we serve in a way that reflects both our
self-respect and our respect for them? Do we look them in the eye and honestly
try to help, serve, respond, and/or engage them? Are they treated as
the citizen-owners of our organization? Do they feel valued as people? Do
they leave our interactions feeling better or worse about their government?
Do our interactions create a good foundation for continued involvement and
participation, or will the people we serve dread their next interaction with
government? We can begin by treating citizens as citizens, remembering that
in a democracy these people are not just our clients or customers, they are
our “bosses,” and as such they deserve no less than sincere respect and full
and complete involvement in the work of government.
What can we do as citizens and members of communities to contribute to
the creation of a civil society and the ideals of democracy? The short answer
is that we can do what comes naturally—we can act on our desire to belong
and to join with others. Again, this begins with how we think about our role
in democratic governance. In a sense, our rightful role in government has
been taken from us, not because of evil intent or elitist plot, but as a natural
outgrowth of approaches to governance and management that begin and end
with the assumption that we are incapable of anything other than self-interest.
But for us as citizens, it is important to recognize that making our country and
our communities better requires at the very least our cooperation, and ideally,
our active involvement. By definition, our government belongs to us and is our
responsibility. We can and should have high expectations for government; but
for government to work well, it needs active citizenship. We can expect that
our fellow citizens, who work for government, will treat us with respect and
invite our active participation in their work. It is our right, duty, and privilege
to do so. In return, we can honor and respect their contribution, not just during
times of national disaster, but in everyday service to others.
Finally, we can ask ourselves whether we would perhaps find more meaning,
higher purpose, and greater significance in our lives if we were to make public
service our life’s work. There are great opportunities and tremendous satisfactions
to be gained in working toward making the world and our communities
better, serving others, and pursuing something larger and more important than
ourselves. As individuals, as public servants, and as a nation, we must have
the integrity, the strength, and the commitment to be honest with ourselves
and to work continually to be true to our shared values. Whether we express
our citizenship by becoming more involved in our community dialogue, participating
directly in democratic processes and institutions, or renewing our
commitment or by becoming public servants ourselves—whatever form it
takes—an expansion of democratic citizenship will not only benefit citizens in
their work together but also help build the spirit of public service throughout
society to the benefit of all. Recall Portia’s characterization of mercy in the
Shakespearean play The Merchant of Venice:
The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from
heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives
and him that receives.
The same is true of public service. We invite you to join in building the
New Public Service.

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Abolitionist views of public interest,
Access, 62
Accountability, 6–7, 21, 43, 55–56,
administrative responsibility and,
classic debate of, 120–124
customer orientation and, 59
Finer’s external controls and, 122–123
Friedrich’s professionalism and,
New Public Management and, 130–131,
New Public Service and, 131–137
Old Public Administration and, 129–130
public entrepreneur and, 91
public interest and, 75, 120
Spiro’s perspective on, 126–127
Active participation, 97
Activism, 35
Adams, Roy, 165
Adaptive work, 147
Administration. See Public administration
Administrative Behavior (Simon), 9
“Administrative man,” 9, 11
Administrative Procedure Act of 1946,
Administrative responsibility, 124–129
criteria of, 126
working biases of, 125
The Administrative State (Waldo), 160
Administrator. See Public administrator
Agency theory, 20–21, 26
Albretch, Karl, 58
Alford, John, 113
Altruism, 30, 113
American Society for Public
Administration (ASPA), 6, 69
AmericaSpeaks 21st Century Town
Meeting model, 171–172
An Ethic of Citizenship for Public
Administration (Cooper), 55
Appleby, Paul, 7, 55, 71, 78
Arenas, 149
Argyris, Chris, 36–38
Aristotle, 46, 49, 54, 116
Australia, 15–16, 59
Authentic participation, 94, 167
Authority, 49
Bailey, Stephen K., 55
Barber, Benjamin, 45, 51, 98–99
Barzelay, Michael, 58
Behn, Robert, 137
Belgium, 59
Bellah, Robert, 95
Benhabib, Seyla, 100
Bennis, Warren, 140
Berry, Jeffrey M., 80
Betts, Roland, 170
Between Facts and Norms (Habermas), 99
Bloomberg, Michael, 173
Boston, Jonathan, 14, 21
Bouckaert, Geert, 15
Box, Richard, 31
Boyte, Harry C., 30
Brudney, Jeffrey L., 113
Bryson, John, 148–149
Bureaucracy, 14, 36, 150
Weber’s approach to, 156–157
Bureaucratic management, 8, 26
Bureaucratic Responsibility (Burke),
Burke, John, 108, 110, 134
Burns, James MacGregor, 145–146, 167
Canada, 15
Capitalism, 77
Cassinelli, C. W., 68
Catalytic Leadership (Luke), 150–152
Cayer, N. Joseph, 134
Center for Democracy and Citizenship
(University of Minnesota), 169
Champions, 151
Chapin, Linda, 35
Choice, 62
Chubb, John, 144
Citizen Governance (Box), 31
“Citizen-Initiated Performance
Assessment” (CIPA), 173–176
Citizen Performance Team (PT), 173
building involvement of, 45, 50–53, 93,
civic engagement, international
examples, 181–187
empowerment of, 23
engagement of, 114–115, 169–170
Greenville’s, WI New Public Service,
Iowa’s performance assessment,
maximum feasible participation, 94
National Park Service Civic
Engagement Initative, 176–178
rebuilding of New York, post 9/11,
role of, 49–50
“Citizen’s Charter” movement (UK), 16,
Citizenship, 27, 93; see also Democratic
active citizenship, 51–54
administrators as civic educators, 95
American tradition of, 47–48
civil society and, 34
community and, 47
entrepreneurship vs., 83–84
high vs. low views of, 49, 116
as legal status, 47
public service as, 53–56, 163, 165
quality service of New Public Service,
theories and historical overview of,
Citizen trust, 66, 73–74, 79, 116
City councils, 149
City manager, 6
Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New
York, 170–172
Civic Engagement Initiative (University
of Southern California), 170
Civic engagement, international examples
of, 181–187
Civic Practices Network, 169
Civic pride, 103
Civic responsibility, 103
CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen
Participation, 169
Civic virtue, 49
democratic citizenship and, 46–54
Civil society. See Community/civil society
Cleveland, Frederick, 7
Cleveland, Harlan, 85
Client service, 57
Cline, Kurt D., 109
Clinton, Bill, 19
Cocci, Manuella, 182, 185–187
Cochran, Clarke, 68, 70–71
Common Cause, 140
Common good, 116
Commons problems, 72–73
Community building, 114
Community/civil society, 27, 34
citizenship and, 34
common good/shared values of, 33, 115
government and, 35
Community/civil society (continued)
models of, 32–35
public interest and, 80–81
public policy and, 72
social interaction of, 115
Community-owned government, 17
Community policing, 117
Competition, 92, 144
Competitive bids, 93
Consensualist models, 71–72
Consultation, 97
Consumerism, 58, 61
access, 62
choice, 62
information, 62
Potter’s theory of, 61–62
redress, 62
representation, 62
Convenience, 61
Cook, Thomas, 107
Cooper, Terry, 48, 55–56, 114, 128, 133,
Cope, Glen, 132
Coproduction, 112–113, 115, 117
Council-manager local government, 6
Courts, 149
Crosby, Barbara, 148–149
Crothers, Lane, 153, 190
Culture, 159–161, 163
Customer-driven government, 17–18, 58
Customer satisfaction
accountability and, 59
New Public Management and, 57–60, 92
Customer service, 58, 90
Dahl, Robert, 11, 25, 27, 36, 70
Debates, 149
Decentralization, 93
DeLeon, Peter, 96, 114
Deliberation, 30–31
Deliberative democracy, 99–100
Democracy, 8, 48
deliberative democracy, 99–100
economic theory of, 57
government and, 87
Democratic administration, 159–161
Democratic character, 49
Democratic citizenship, 3, 27–32
building citizen involvement, 50–56
civic vs. self-interests, 31
civic virtue and, 46–53
public spirit and, 30–31
Democratic morality, 51
Democratic spirit, 55
Democratic talk, 99
Denhardt, Robert B., 38–39, 79, 191–192
Dickson, William, 158
Dimock, Gladys, 125
Dimock, Marshall, 8, 25, 27, 36, 125
Discussion groups, 149
Division of labor, 7, 142
Dobson, L. Douglas, 107
Dunn, Delmer D., 124
Dwivedi, O. P., 121, 128
Economic interests, 87, 190
Economic man, 10–11
Economic rationalism, 13, 22
Efficiency, 7–8, 11, 111
control and, 162
rationality and, 9
England, Robert E., 113
Entrepreneurial managers, 26, 90–91
Entrepreneurship, 83–84
New Public Management and, 143–144
Equity, 66, 81, 87, 93, 164–165, 175
Ethical standards, 55, 128
public interest, 68–69
Evans, Sara M., 31
Executive committees, 149
Executive management, 141–143
External controls, 122–125
Factions, 70
Fairness, 61, 66, 69, 81, 164–165
Farmer, John David, 100
Federalist Papers No. 10 (Madison), 70
Feltey, Kathryn M., 94
Financial Management Initiative (UK), 16
Finer, Herman, 120–124, 127
Fiscal responsibility, 61
Fishkin, James, 98
Follett, Mary Parker, 159–160
Forums, 149
Fox, Charles, 100, 110
France, 59
Frederickson, George, 39, 59, 81, 115,
Friedrich, Carl, 120–124, 127
Functional principle, 142
Functional responsibility, 122
Gaebler, Ted, 16, 19, 22–23, 58, 91, 112,
130, 143–144
Gaius, 46–47
Gardner, John, 33, 140
Gawthrop, Louis, 94, 193
General Motors, 142
Gilmore, R. S., 132
Glaser, Mark, 79
Globalization, development and, 85
Global public management reform, 14
Goggin, Malcolm, 105, 109
Golembiewski, Robert, 36–38, 166
Goodnow, Frank, 74, 104, 129
Goodsell, Charles, 80
Gore, Al, 19
Governance, 84–88
citizens and, 3
defined, 86
government and, 86–87
agenda setting role of, 83–84
anticipatory government, 18
as citizen-centered, 32
as customer-driven, 17–18
decentralization of, 14, 18
democracy and social equity/criteria,
economic interests and, 87
governance and, 87
legal/political standards, 87
market-oriented, 18–19
as mission-driven, 17
as open and accessible, 103–104
quality service and, 60–61
as results-oriented, 17
role of, 86–87
transactions with, 60
Government Is Us (King and Stivers),
23, 31
Government Performance and Results
Act, 19
Grass-roots ecosystem management
(GREM) model, 135
Gray, Joseph, 35
Great Britain, 15–16
”Citizen’s Charter” movement, 59
Greenville, WI, new public service in,
GREM (grass-roots ecosystem
management model), 135
Group norms, 159, 163
Groups, 158–161
Gulick, Luther, 6, 8, 25, 143
Habermas, Jurgen, 99
Hall, John, 88
Hall, Thad E., 109
Hambleton, Robin, 170
Hamilton, Linda, 79
Haque, Shamsul, 136
Harmon, Michael, 136–137
Hart, David K., 94, 165
Hawke, Robert, 16
Hawthorne studies (1930s), 40, 158,
Hays, Steven, 166
Heifetz, Ronald, 147
Heinrich, Carolyn, 109
Herring, E. Pendleton, 69, 75
Hierarchical structure, 7–8, 36, 85, 111,
leadership and, 140, 142
organizational behavior, 156–157
Hill, Carolyn, 109
Hobbes, Thomas, 49
Holding Government Bureaucracies
Accountable (Rosen), 130
Hood, Christopher, 13, 21
Hoover, Herbert, 91
How the Entrepreneurial Spirit Is
Transforming the Public Sector
(Osborne and Gaebler), 90
Human behavior in organization, 156–159
cooperation and groups, 158
groups, culture, and democratic
administration, 159–161
Human behavior in organization
hierarchy and scientific management,
human factors, 158–159
key concepts of, 156
McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y,
158, 163
motivational theories, 158–159
New Public Management, 163
New Public Service, 163–167
Old Public Administration approach,
Weber’s approach, 156–157
Implementation: How Great Expectations
in Washington Are Dashed in
Oakland (Pressman and Wildavsky),
Implementation policy
New Public Management and, 112–114
New Public Service and, 114–116
Old Public Administration and, 111–112
Implementation theory
first generation research, 106–107
historical perspective of, 104–106
second generation research, 107–108
third generation research, 108–111
Implementation Theory and Practice:
Toward a Third Generation (Goggin
et al.), 105
In Search of Excellence (Peters and
Waterman), 58
In the Shadow of Organization
(Denhardt), 38
Incentives, 26, 91, 143–144, 163
Individual freedom, 3
Individual self-interest, 45, 57, 60, 76, 81,
commons problem, 72–73
human behavior and, 163–164
maximization of, 79
Inducements, 9, 26
Information, 62, 97–98
Ingraham, Patricia W., 128–129
Innovation, 140
Interest groups, 70–71, 78
Iowa’s citizen-initiated performance
assessment, 173–176
Italy, New Public Service in, 185–187
Jefferson, Thomas, 48, 54
Jensen, L. S., 132
Johnson, Elmina, 107
Justice, 30, 66, 81, 93
Kaboolian, Linda, 13
Kantor, Rosabeth Moss, 33
Kaufman, Herbert, 192
Kearns, Kevin, 133
Kearny, Richard C., 166
Kettering Foundation, 34
Kettl, Donald, 14, 19, 85, 131, 143
King, Cheryl Simrell, 23, 31–32, 35, 94
Kirlin, John, 86
Lacey, R., 132
Lambda values, 21
Langlet, Lena, 182–184
Lasswell, Harold, 96
Lawler, Edward, 166
Burns on, 145–146
changing perspectives on, 139–141
Heifetz’s adaptive work, 147–148
human values and, 141
Luke’s catalytic leadership, 151–152
moral leadership, 147
New Public Management and
entrepreneurship, 143–144
New Public Service and, 145–153
Old Public Administration and executive
management, 141–143
public servants vs. owners, 152–153
shared leadership, 140–141, 148–152, 167
skills for, 141
top-down models of, 139–140
transactional leadership, 146, 167
transformational leadership, 145–146
value-based leadership, 139, 145–148,
Leadership (Burns), 145
Leadership without Easy Answers
(Heifetz), 147
Leath, Jeffrey, 178
Leazes, Francis J., Jr., 132
Legge, Jerome S., 124
Levine, Charles, 115–116
Levitan, David, 160
Lewis, Eugene, 91
Liberal democracy, 77
Lincoln, Abraham, 48
Linder, Stephen, 107, 110
Lippman, Walter, 67
“Listening to the City” project, 170
Long, Norton, 38
Love, Janice, 110
Lower Manhattan Development
Corporation (LMDC), 170, 172–173
Luke, Jeffrey, 150–152
Lynn, Lawrence E., 20, 109
Maass, Arthur A., 125–126
McGregor, Douglas, 158, 160
MacKenzie, J. S., 168
McSwite, O. C., 42, 100
Madison, James, 47–48, 70
Managerialism, 20–21
Managing for Results movement, 4, 16,
Mansbridge, Jane, 30
Maslow, Abraham, 160
Mathews, David, 34
Maximum feasible participation, 94
Men, Management, and Mortality
(Golembiewski), 37
Menzel, Donald, 106
Miller, Hugh, 100
Miller, Trudi, 77
Mill, John Stuart, 47, 49
Milward, H. Brinton, 85
Mintzberg, Henry, 60
Monopolies, 144
Montjoy, Robert, 108
Monypenny, Philip, 69, 75
Mooney,James, 142
Moral entrepreneur, 94
Moral leadership, 147
Moral responsibility, 123, 134, 165
Moses, Robert, 91
Mosher, Frederick, 121
Motivation, 162
Motivational theories, 157–159
Myers, R., 132
Nakamura, Robert, 108, 110
National Center for Public Productivity
(Rutgers University), 169
National Park Service (NPS) Civic
Engagement Initiative, 176–178
National Performance Review (NPR), 4,
19, 58
Neomanagerialism, 21–22
New Deal era, 74–75
New Public Administration
(Frederickson), 39
New Public Management, 4, 12–15, 26, 189
accountability and, 130–131
administrator’s role, 90–93
agency/principal theory, 20–21
America’s experience of, 16–19
Australia’s experience of, 15–16
business techniques and values, 22
central doctrines of, 14–15
community-ownership, 17
competitive government, 17
consumerism and, 58
core ideas of, 16–17
criticism of, 22–24
customer satisfaction and, 57–60
entrepreneurial leadership, 143–144
global public management reform, 14
Great Britain’s reforms, 16
implementation policy and, 112–114
incentives and productivity, 163
intellectual support for, 20–22, 27
leadership and, 143–144
managerialism and, 21
managing for results, 16
market-orientation of, 13, 18–19
New Public Service vs., 28t–29t
New Zealand’s reforms, 15–16
Old Public Management vs., 23–24, 26,
privatization functions, 13
public interest and, 76–77
results-oriented government, 17
steering vs. rowing, 16–17
New Public Service, 3–4, 38, 42–43, 88,
accountability and, 131–137
administrator’s role, 93–100
democratic citizenship of, 27–32, 42, 63
development of, 25–27
examples of, 169–170
future of, 187–188
Greenville, WI, example, 178–181
implementation policy and, 114–116
international examples of, 181–187
Iowa’s performance assessment,
in Italy, 185–187
leadership and, 145–153
models of community/civil society,
National Park Service (NPS) initiative,
New Public Management vs., 28t–29t
New York rebuilding, post 9/11,
Old Public Administration vs., 28t–29t
organizational humanism, 35–39
postmodern public administration,
public interest and, 42, 65, 77–81
public service ideals, 163–167
quality service for citizens, 60–63
in Sweden, 182–184
New York rebuilding, post 9/11, 170–174
New Zealand, 15–16, 21, 59
Normative models of public interest,
Old Public Administration, 22–23, 189
accountability and, 129–130
administrator’s role and, 88–90
client service and, 57
control for efficiency, 162
elements of, 11–12
executive management and, 141–143
implementation policy and, 111–112
New Public Management vs., 23–24, 26,
public interest and, 74–76
traditional concepts of, 5–6
O’Neill, Bridget, 94
Organizational behavior. See Human
behavior in organizations
Organizational culture, 159–161,
Organizational design, 142
Organizational efficiency, 8
Organizational humanism, 27, 35–39
individual freedom and, 37
organization development and, 36
Organizational politics, 161
Organizational structure, 7
Organization development, 36
Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development (OECD), 97
Osborne, David, 16, 19, 22–23, 58, 91,
112, 130, 143–144
Ostrom, Elinor, 113
Ostrom, Vincent, 113
O’Toole, Laurence J., 108–109
Ott, J. Steven, 156, 161
Palumbo, Dennis, 109
Parker, Lee, 79
Participation, 30, 166, 169–170
authentic participation, 94
civic engagement, international
examples, 181–187
Greenville, WI example, 178–181
Iowa’s performance assessment,
National Park Service (NPS) example,
New York rebuilding, post 9/11,
politics of, 49
Pataki, George E., 173
Pateman, Carole, 49, 52
Payton, Stephanie, 79
Performance assessment, Iowa’s citizeninitiated
system, 173–176
Pericles, 116
Personal attention, 61
Personality and Organization (Argyris),
Personal responsibility, 56, 121
Peters, B. Guy, 107, 110
Peters, Tom, 58, 60
Plas, Jeanne M., 167
Pocock, J. G. A., 46
Policy-administration dichotomy, 6, 89
Policy entrepreneurs, 91
Policy experts, 143
Policy implementation theory. See
Implementation theory
Policy networks, 86
Policy process, 86
Polis (collective model), 72–73
Political altruism, 30
Political behavior, as economic
competition, 57
Political community, 72
Political elites, 30
Political influence, 6–7
Political leadership, 103
Political participation, 49
Political parties, 70
Political process theories, 70–71
Politics-administration dichotomy, 6–7,
112, 121
Politics (Aristotle), 46
Politics of participation, 49
Pollitt, Christopher, 15, 21
Portney, Kent, 80
POSDCORB (planning, organizing,
staffing, directing, coordinating,
reporting, and budgeting), 8
Positivism, 39–40
Postmodern public administration, 27,
Potter, Jenny, 61–62
Power, 146
Power politics, 49
Pranger, Robert J., 49, 51
A Preface to Democratic Theory (Dahl),
Pressman, Jeffrey, 105–106
Principal agent theory, 20–21, 26
Private goods, 10
Privatization, 93, 112, 131
Problem-solving approach, 61, 149
Productive behaviors, 114
Productivity, 155
Professionalism, 120–122, 124
Public administration
business model, 5
core ideas of, 11
efficiency vs. human elements, 8
mainstream/normative model of, 25–26
as policymaking, 7
politics-administration dichotomy, 6–7
public interest and, 74–76, 81
societal value and, 4
traditional concept (Old Public
Administration) of, 5–6
Public Administration and the Public
Interest (Herring), 69
Public administrator
ethics and moral qualities of, 55–56
as moral entrepreneur, 94
New Public Management and, 90–93
New Public Service and, 93–100
Old Public Administration and, 88–90
public interest and, 75–76, 79
Public choice theory, 10–11, 26, 30,
assumptions of, 10
Public employees, 3
Public entrepreneurs, 16–17
Public goods, 10
Public hearings, 149
Public interest, 3, 42, 65
abolitionist views of, 69–70
accountability and, 75, 120
“commons” problems, 72–73
concept of, 66
defined, 67–68
as moral/ethical decision making
standard, 68
negation of concept, 77
New Public Administration, 76–77
New Public Service and, 77–81, 163
normative models of, 68–69
Old Public Administration and, 74–76
political process theories, 70–71
shared values and, 71–74
Public judgment, 98
Public management vs. public
administration, 20
Public manager, 96
Public opinion, 98
Public participation, 50, 97
Public policy, 20
governance perspective of, 84–88
policy networks, 86
Public service and public servants
commitment to, 4, 54
ideals and values of, 45, 78, 81,
163–167, 193–195
moral entailments of, 165
quality measures, 61, 179–180
Public spirit, 30
Public Will, 74
The Pursuit of Significance (Denhardt),
Pusey, Michael, 21
Putnam, Robert, 34
Quality measures, 61
citizen influence, 61
convenience, 61
fairness, 61
fiscal responsibility, 61
personal attention, 61
problem-solving approach, 61
reliability, 61
security, 61
Radaway, Lawrence I., 125–126
Rational behavior, 37
Rational choice theory, 25–26, 38, 41
Rational Model, 9, 40
Redford, Emmette, 51, 69, 78
Reich, Robert, 96
Reiley, Alan C., 142
Reinventing Government (Osborne and
Gaebler), 16, 90, 93
Reliability, 61
Representation, 62
Responsibility, 121–122; see also
administrative responsibility and,
moral responsibility, 123
objective (external) and subjective
(internal), 128
Responsibility in Government (Spiro),
The Responsible Administrator (Cooper),
Rickover, Hyman, 91
Risk, 152
Roberts, Nancy, 169–170
Roethlisberger, F. J., 158
Rohr, John, 80
Romzek, Barbara S., 128–129
Rosen, Bernard, 130
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 47, 49, 52, 116
Ruscio, Kenneth, 66, 79
Sandel, Michael, 27, 30
Scalar principle, 142
Schattschneider, E. E., 71
Schein, Edgar, 161
Schubert, Glendon, 67, 69–70, 74, 81
Scientific management, 7–8, 22, 111,
Security, 61
Sederberg, Peter, 110
Service America (Albretch and Zemke),
Service delivery, 17, 143
Shared leadership, 148–152, 167
Shared transformative capacity, 148
Shared values, 71–74, 163
Sigma values, 21
Simon, Herbert, 9–11, 25–26, 37, 39
Sloan (Alfred P.) Foundation, 173
Smith, Howard, 67, 70
Social equity, 87
Social responsibility, 32
Sorauf, Frank, 67
Spiro, Herbert, 126–127
Staats, Elmer, 164
Steering vs. rowing, 16–17, 26, 83–84,
88, 100, 139, 143
Stivers, Camilla, 23, 31–32, 35, 95
Stone, Deborah, 72–73, 76
Street Level Leadership (Vizant and
Crothers), 190
Sundeen, Richard, 115
Sweden, New Public Service in, 182–184
Task forces, 149
Taylor, Frederick W., 7, 25, 157, 163
Teamwork, 18
Tebo, David, 178–179
Technology, 85
Terry, Larry, 91
Thatcher, Margaret, 16
Theory X and Theory Y (McGregor), 158,
Theta values, 21
Thomas, John Clayton, 94
Thompson, Dennis, 50, 56
Thomson, Ken, 80
Time and motion studies, 7
Tocqueville, Alexis de, 47–48, 52
Tornatzky, Louis, 107
Total quality management (TQM), 4, 22
Transactional leadership, 146
Transformational leadership, 145–146, 167
Trust. See Citizen trust
Type III errors, 107
United States Constitution, 47–48
Unity of command, 142
common good/shared values, 33, 71–74,
115, 163–167
organizational behavior and, 40
public service ideals/values, 4, 45, 61,
78, 81
value-based leadership, 139, 145–148,
Van Horn, C. E., 108
Van Meter, D. S., 108
Vinzant, Janet, 153, 190
Vision, 65
Voluntary associations, 48
Volunteerism, 113
Vouchers, 143
Waldo, Dwight, 8, 11, 25, 27, 36, 160
Walzer, Michael, 52, 55
Wamsley, Gary, 80
War on Poverty, 94
Waterman, Robert, 58
Weber, Edward, 135
Weber, Max, 156–157
Weeks, Edward, 79–80
Welfare state, 85
Whitehead, John, 170
White, Leonard, 7, 142
Who Governs? (Dahl), 70
Wildavsky, Aaron, 105–106
Willoughby, W. F., 7, 141
Wilson, Woodrow, 5–7, 25, 74, 104, 120,
129, 141
Wolin, Sheldon, 52
World Trade Organization (WTO), 85
Yankelovich, Daniel, 98
Yeatman, Anna, 21
Zemke, Ron, 58
About the Authors
Janet V. Denhardt is a professor in the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State
University. Her teaching and research interests focus on organizational theory,
organization behavior, and leadership. She has published five books including
The Dance of Leadership (with Robert Denhardt), Managing Human Behavior
in Public and Nonprofit Organizations (with Robert Denhardt and Maria Aristigueta),
and Street-Level Leadership: Discretion and Legitimacy in Front-Line
Service (with Lane Crothers). She has also published more than twenty articles
in journals such as Public Administration Review, Administration & Society,
American Review of Public Administration, and Journal of Public Administration
Research and Theory. Prior to joining the faculty at Arizona State University, she
taught at Eastern Washington University and served in a variety of administrative
positions for the State of Washington and the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services. Her doctorate is from the University of Southern California.
Robert B. Denhardt is Lincoln Professor of Leadership and Ethics and Director
of the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University, and Distinguished
Visiting Scholar at the University of Delaware. He is past president of the
American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) and was founder and first
chair of ASPA’s National Campaign for Public Service, an effort to assert the
dignity and worth of public service across the nation. He is also a member of
the National Academy of Public Administration. He has published nineteen
books, including Theories of Public Organization; Public Administration: An
Action Orientation; In the Shadow of Organization; The Pursuit of Significance;
Managing Human Behavior in Public and Nonprofit Organizations (with Janet
Denhardt and Maria Aristigueta); and most recently, The Dance of Leadership
(with Janet Denhardt). He has published more than one hundred articles in
professional journals, primarily in the areas of leadership, management, and
organizational change. His doctorate is from the University of Kentucky.

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