Source: "Stoker, G. 2005. "Public value management – A new narrative for networked governance?" American Review of Public Administration 36 (1) 1 March: 41–57."

I want to share with you a seminal paper on Public Value Management (PVM) which supports Web 2.0 . Added bonus: it summarises and contextualises all three Governance models: Traditional Public Administration (TPA), New Public Management (NPM) and of course PVM.

What are governance paradigms? The model, the principles , essentially; the structure that supports the framework for decision-making and action within government. You may not know it, but the governance structure and signposts that provide both the direction and frustration of government work is supported by an intentional and deliberate governance paradigm.

Don’t believe me? If this wasn’t true, the study of Public Administration would be quite barren, haphazard, and scattered, with little substance to provide the content for textbooks and curriculum for Masters courses in public administration (let alone doctorate-level courses).

Tell me if these predominant themes in NPM speak to you: accountability, performance measurement, management framework, risk-mitigation, managed efficiency.

I’d like to share with you an overview of these governance paradigms, so you can wow your colleagues, impress your mother, and stupefy your classmates. Yes, stupefy.

Traditional Public Administration (1880s – 1980s)

Slogan: All citizens get a 100-word guidebook

A long long time ago, in a land very close to home, there was Traditional Public Administration, which “provides a particular set of solutions to the challenges of governance [drawing] on a Weberian perception of the world [placing] modest expectations on the… elected politicians…[TPA was] primarily was there to provide a pool of potential political leaders.”

Much of Traditional Public Administration is still with us today; TPA introduced hierarchy, with bureaucracy as the governance mechanism for organising the modern state. Makes sense, really, since stability and predictability is essential for the economy, and bureaucracy delivers organizational effectiveness though “hierarchical division of labor…whereby complex administrative problems are broken down into manageable and repetitive tasks…[where] officials are employed within a full-time career structure in which continuity and long-term advancement is emphasised.” TPA introduced the life-long career public servant, and the skillful mandarin, equipped with a toolkit of deployable programs and well-crafted policies. The Wild West of gun-shot local management was modernised with the plans, the answers and direction for a manageable government, through structure, procedures, organisation. Things were nice, the public servants were great; “the work of bureaucrats is conducted according to prescribed rules without artbitrariness or favoritism…with a written record…officials are appointed on merit…becom[ing] experts by training for their function and in turn [they] control access, information and knowledge in their defined area of responsibility.”

If there were badges promoting the adoption of Traditional Public Administration, I imagine they would look like this:


My head spins at the relics that still exist today, with solace to know where it comes from. TPA ran its course, but was limited as progress advanced, quality of life rose, and individuality rose in importance. Science and technology flourished, as did philosophical perspectives on rationality and post-modernism. How do you govern a nation of individual people’s, with desires, preferences, interests, and the means to act on them? Certainly not with rigid structures and public servants with age-old time-tested procedures, with prescribed processes and resources. Enter:

New Public Management (~1980-present)

Slogan: All managed measurements can be measured, and managed

As discussed earlier, we are currently in the New Public Management paradigm, which is focused of performance measurement, reporting, controls, audits. It’s based around an ethic to equip managers with means to manage off the script but not off the cuff. As guidebooks and procedure manuals got thicker and thicker, and exceptions to the rule amounted, managers needed to elaborate their own procedures to reach identified goals, charting the most effective route with the resources available under the conditions that exist.

  • Mandarins became executives.
  • Guidebooks became a frameworks.
  • Tasks became performance management agreements.
  • Results became accountability measures.

In some ways NPM was a means to dismantle bureaucracy, giving managers the freedom to manage. This was sensible, and necessary; the work was now different, and not so clear-cut. But not to say all the bureaucracy is gone, much of what we refer to bureaucracy is an anachronism harking to TPA, when bureaucracy was actually a positvely-regarded term, referring to the assuring stability in established rules.

If there were badges promoting the adoption of New Public Management, I imagine they would look like this:


Not without its problems, NPM has implications without its required elements: quality leadership, supporting resources (manpower, expertise) and, well, stability. Some of the implications:

  • lack of quality leadership: ill-conceived goals, redundant structures, ineffective bureaucracy, project mismanagement (cost overruns, late deliverables)
  • lacking resources: compromised programs, scaled-back initiatives, delayed implementations
  • lack of stability: misaligned goals, employee disengagement, cost over-runs, citizen disapproval

So what to do? Not  awhole much. NPM is what it is, and the structures and frameworks that exist currently, reinforce it. Simply, not much can be done unless there is a viable alternative. But, as “New Public Management has now been “new” for more than 15 years … public administration scholars are calling for new approaches, such as networked governance or collaboration. However, these approaches share with their predecessors the problem that they tend toward a one-best-way orientation. The criteria for a Web 2.0-supporting post-NPM model has certain criteria to meet; reduces or eliminates the growing gap between the public and government, as well as reconciles the friction between Web 2.0 and governance. Enter:

Public Value Management (Future?)

No big shock here, I continue to propose PVM as a successive governance paradigm to our own.  It addresses the prevailing issues with TPA, the implications of NPM, and updates it for a more open and collaborative government under the existing governance structure of the Westminster constitutional monarchy democracy mixed hybrid breed system-like governmental system we have now.

“The time may well have come for public servants to suggest to the political authorities that they attend first of all to their own institutional problems before attempting more reforms of the civil service….real reform can take place only if political institutions are themselves reformed. Less bureaucracy without less government may not be possible unless politicians look at how their own institutions need to be adjusted.”

In “the philosophy of PVM it is central that the public and indeed all stakeholders partake actively in a discursive process of decision-making in order to overcome the limitations of silo-based organization and adversarial democracy.  PVM seems by origin to be inclusive of the same issues and reforms discussed earlier, while also involving public involvement in the decision making. “Public value is defined and redefined through social and political interaction…public value provides a path to reconciling democracy and efficiency through dialogue and exchange.

Much still has to be considered of the possible application of the model, and although hard to avoid, a comparison to NPM would not be an effective benchmark from which to assess PVM; NPM is currently a compromised benchmark, considering all the academic, public and government criticisms against; and PVM is not intended to replace NPM to best achieve the results of NPM (measurable results and improvements through performance and agreements).

PVM forges a new deal with an already-engaged public, and redefines the work of government as more collaborative and open to “public experience and expertise…[as it provides] the crucial linchpin between the more collective and collaborative governance mindsets of Stoker’s public value management and Paquet’s social learning on the one hand, and contemporary determinations of trust built less upon deference to authority and office than direct engagement and dialogue”.

If I were to make badges promoting the adoption of Public Value Management, I would make them look like this:



I encourage you to read the paper by Stoker, making a very important case for PVM, and explaining the governance paradigms of TPA and NPM. In the paper, Stoker goes into considerable conceptual detail comparing Traditional Public Administration, its successor NPM, and PVM. The goals are far-reaching and wide-ranging, in varying ways. From “fragment[ing] monopolistic public service structures and develop incentives and tools to influence the way they operate” to “seek[ing] to dismantle the bureaucratic pillar of the Weberian model of traditional public administration.” There is middle-ground as well; “a shift from a culture that accepts public acquiescence in decision making to one that expects active citizen endorsement.” Stoker also indicates some of the technological supports necessary, inferred here as web 2.0: “New information and communication technologies offer a range of further opportunities to get people’s participation in ways that are flexible…and not too time-consuming.”