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New public management in public sector organisations - the dark sides of managerialistic 'enlightenment'

Diefenbach, T. (2009) New public management in public sector organisations - the dark sides of managerialistic 'enlightenment'. Public Administration, 87 (4). pp. 892-909. ISSN 0033-3298

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For many years the proponents of New Public Management (NPM) have promised to improve public services by making public sector organizations much more 'business-like'. There have been many investigations and empirical studies about the nature of NPM as well as its impact on organizations. However, most of these studies concentrate only on some elements of NPM and provide interesting, but often anecdotal, evidence and insights. Perhaps exactly because of the large amount of extremely revealing and telling empirical studies, there is, therefore, a lack of a systematic identification and understanding of the nature of NPM and its overall relevance. This paper contributes to a systematic identification and understanding of the concept of NPM as well as its multi-dimensional impact on public sector organizations. First, the paper aims at (re-) constructing a comprehensive taxonomy of NPM's main assumptions and core elements. Secondly, the paper tries to provide a more comprehensive and meta-analytical analysis of primarily the negative consequences of NPM-strategies for public sector organizations as well as the people working in them.