The Government paradigm in place among Westminster and Commonwealth nations is the New Public Management paradigm. Simply put, it’s “managing for results” through metrics and performance evaluations. With it, retains the structures of hierarchy and bureaucracy, but modernised towards the service delivery and policy development.
Where did New Public Management come from? A view that everything could be measured, tracked. New Public Management sought to bring to governance what the Industrial Revolution did to Industry: process, structure, measurements, and ever-increasing returns. Despite all its short-comings, it’s what Government has now, and what it has to work with.
Below you will see embedded the Adam Curtis documentary “Century of the Self” which shows, in a stitched-video series on YouTube, how this paradigm came about, and how Government ‘adapted’. You will need to draw the link to extrapolating its effects today. While it doesn’t name “New Public Management” per se, the important link here is that the Governemnt governance paradigm evolved in response to an “age of mass democracy”, individual psychological needs…and technology. The effect on Web 2.0, as we go further, causes friction to the control of the prevailing paradigm of New Public Management.
I suggest you play it while you work or wash the dishes. Take a sweeping look at the video when something interesting comes up. It’ll surely give you much to think about.
Consumercracy or Democracy?
“This series is about how those in power have used Freud’s theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy.” – Adam Curtis
A good friend of mine (who happens to be a television producer in Toronto) swore he wouldn’t talk to me again until I watched the NFB-produced documentary “Paperland“. I can proudly inform my friend that I finally got around to watching it, and I am passing on the recommendation that you watch it to.
It contrasts the Canadian bureaucrat (at the federal level) with public servants around the world, as well as doing a sociological profile of the bureaucrat. The documentary also features the prominent governance doctrines Traditional Public Management (which is all about following the guidebook) AND New Public Management (managing for results and working in measurable ways).
Through the wonder of Web 2.0 tools (of which NFB grasps quite well I’m proud to say!) I can share this video with you directly, here!:
Paperland: The Bureaucrat Observed Donald Brittain, 1979, 57 min 46 s
Bureaucracy shapes our lives and guides us from the cradle to the grave. This documentary, directed by Donald Brittain, lays bare the idiosyncrasies of bureaucracy, whether in Canada, Austria, Hungary, the Vatican or the Virgin Islands. It also attempts to make the functioning of the public service more comprehensible. The absurdities of bureaucratic behaviour are exposed with humour and irreverence.
I don’t want to taint any opinions of the doc you may have with my own, but I do hope you watch it. And please share your views, by leaving a comment here or on twitter (@DBast it please though!).
I wonder if it would be possible to do any sort of follow-up with the producer, and any of the public servants in the video?
I wonder what the next 30 years will hold for the public service. Maybe dresses and moustaches will have a comeback. Or at least maybe just Moustaches for now.