Governance: An international journal of policy, administration and institutions

NPM after 30 years: Higher costs, more complaints


In 1980 Michael Heseltine, a key Cabinet minister in the government of Margaret Thatcher, said that “efficient management is the key to revival” of British government.

The United Kingdom was a “vanguard state” for experimentation with administrative reforms that came to be known as the New Public Management, or NPM.  After three decades, what results has NPM produced in the UK?  Christopher Hood and Ruth Dixon address that question in a commentary for Governance.  Complaints about maladministration and judicial challenges to government action increased markedly, Hood and Dixon say, while administrative costs “rose substantially” in real terms.  On the other hand, trust in government did not collapse, as many critics of NPM feared, and administrative costs did take up a smaller share of total public spending.  The overall conclusion?  “Government worked a bit worse and cost a bit more.”  Free access to the commentary.

Related reading: In a commentary for Governance in July 2014, Jonathan Boston and Chris Eichbaum assessed thirty years of neoliberal reform in New Zealand, another “vanguard state” for NPM.  Read their commentary.

Written by Governance

April 9, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Posted in commentary


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