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Under New Public Management

Under New Public Management: Institutional Ethnographies of Changing Front-Line Work

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    Under New Public Management
    Book Description:

    The institutional ethnographies collected inUnder New Public Managementexplore how new managerial governance practices coordinate the work of people doing front-line work in public sectors such as health, education, social services, and international development, and people management in the private sector.

    In these fields, organizations have increasingly adopted private-sector management techniques, such as standardized and quantitative measures of performance and an obsession with cost reductions and efficiency. These practices of "new public management" are changing the ways in which front-line workers engage with their clients, students, or patients.

    Using research drawn from Canada, the United States, Australia, and Denmark, the contributors expose how standardized managerial requirements are created and applied, and how they affect the practicalities of working with people whose lives and experiences are complex and unique.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-1946-3
    Subjects: Education, Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vii)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-22)

    The institutional ethnographies collected in this book make visible changes in the front-line work of organizations delivering services to people – changes that are going on behind our backs. Our collected ethnographies explore the introduction of new forms of management, which, we have come to believe, has to be understood in relation to changes in the nation-state.

    Go back a few years to a time when a national government had the capacity to manage its economy. Keynesian theory and policy derived therefrom assumed that the state could actually oversee and control its economy to a significant degree. Today globalization, however...

  6. Section One

    • [Section One Introduction]
      (pp. 23-24)

      The two chapters in the first section of this book bring into focus the larger governmental or transnational organizations that frame the new forms of managing the public sector. The institutional circuits that maintain the managerial focus of front-line work are essential to managerial success. First, the focus of people’s work has to be re-conceptualized through newly developed managerial discourses. Second, managerial routines must be established as the reporting processes for front-line work and must include textual technologies translating local work into standardized and measurable representations.

      Richard Darville (Chapter One) addresses this transformational relation as he details the shifting discourses...

    • 1 Literacy Work and the Adult Literacy Regime
      (pp. 25-57)

      Although “literacy” seems only to name the ordinary ability of masses of people to read and write, in discourses of literacy the term is not simply referential. Since it came into conventional use some two centuries ago, its meaning and implications have inevitably been contested, pointing to reading and writing certain kinds of texts for certain religious, political, cultural, economic, and educational projects. The term characteristically works to conceptualize and organize divisions between insiders and outsiders in such domains of knowledge and action.

      Adult literacy education has developed in Canada and other industrialized countries over the last four decades. Early...

    • 2 Learning Global Governance: OECD’s Aid Effectiveness and “Results” Management in a Kyrgyzstani Development Project
      (pp. 58-80)

      This chapter offers insight into how development aid – especially its more effective management as promoted by multilateral organizations and donor governments – contributes to the post-Cold War organization of global capitalism. The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (OECD–DAC 2005) and its recommended management by results (MBR) strategy are the discourses at the centre of this analysis. Sponsored by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD–DAC) and supported by the multilateral development banks and development-related agencies of the United Nations, the Paris Declaration’s five principles establish a new (or, as is argued...

  7. Section Two

    • [Section Two Introduction]
      (pp. 81-84)

      The extent of the managerial turn in governance is made possible by digital technologies. Computers are excellent sorting machines, once the material to be sorted has been reconstituted as machine-recognizable data. This reworking of the everyday world into data for entry into virtual technologies is, of necessity, an objective rendering of the social world. As we saw in the previous section, this objective rendering reshapes the work organization at the front line while reframing the raison d’être of that work. However, people work is not an easy fit with the categories that intend the institutional circuits. The papers in this...

    • 3 E-governance and Data-Driven Accountability: OnSIS in Ontario Schools
      (pp. 85-121)

      While this epigraph may seem puzzling to the reader, it is pertinent because it pinpoints the “ideological code” (Smith 1999 : 157–71) of the database management system that is unpacked in this chapter. The Ontario School Information System (OnSIS) is an initiative of the Ministry of Education, designed in partnership with a private IT company, SRB Education Solutions Inc.² Under the Managing Information for Student Achievement (MISA) Project, the ministry began phasing in OnSIS in 2004–2005 (OnSIS–SISOn & I&IT 2007). However, as a practising teacher myself, I was not aware of OnSIS, and neither were the teacher-participants whom...

    • 4 Digital Era Governance: Connecting Nursing Education and the Industrial Complex of Health Care
      (pp. 122-147)

      This chapter examines the appearance of e-governance and integrated management strategies that are beginning to organize nursing education in Canada. Efforts to integrate health and education sectors are being driven by mechanized approaches to organizing students’ need for practical experience in health care settings. The integration strategies we describe here extend the reach of the production model into the work of nurse educators. We argue that they entrench relevancies that are at odds with some of the goals of nursing and nursing education.

      Professional management, with its increasingly powerful command over the knowledge of the enterprise being managed, has been...

    • 5 What Counts? Managing Professionals on the Front Line of Emergency Services
      (pp. 148-176)

      Health care systems throughout industrialized countries have experienced ongoing reform and restructuring practices that have shaped and reshaped how health care is delivered, experienced, financed, and made accountable. The goal of reforming health care and health work has been to rectify a multitude of perceived crises in the arena of health care service and delivery, including spiralling costs, escalating wait times, varied practices of health-care workers, and lack of accountability (Bird, Conrad & Fremont 2000 ; CAEP 2002). In both the professional literature and the news media, one site of health care where these aspects of service delivery are intensely scrutinized,...

    • 6 “Let’s be friends”: Working within an Accountability Circuit
      (pp. 177-198)

      New forms of governance are introduced unevenly, sometimes strategically and sometimes opportunistically, in ways that may reveal local managerial creativity and an attunement with discourses of the “new public management” (NPM). As a discourse and mindset of efficiency, devolution, cost containment, and accountability gain traction, local administrators of public sector programs may act artfully in response to changing conditions and demands. They act within the accountability circuits of program legislation, but our analysis suggests that accountabilities may also operate through more diffuse and complex circuits, as local institutions respond to the distinctive demands of their local environments, that is, to...

  8. Section Three

    • 7 A Workshop Dialogue: Outcome Measures and Front-Line Social Service Work
      (pp. 201-250)

      We begin with a wide and busy terrain of front-line work: social services to help people live with difficult life problems, get jobs, escape homelessness, settle in a new country, or learn new skills. In North America, many social services are provided by independent organizations that receive funding from third parties, such as government, charitable foundations, and private donors. It is customary to talk about the voluntary or non-profit sector in this context and indeed many, perhaps most, of the independent organizations that offer human services are incorporated as non-profit organizations (NPOs). Funders such as the United Way and private...

  9. Section Four

    • [Section Four Introduction]
      (pp. 251-252)

      The final section of this book takes up the transformation of work and of consciousness associated with the new managerial regimes. As front-line workers coordinate their work with the managerial routines, a new conceptual framing of their work is established.

      This second workshop dialogue, which includes studies by Grace, Zurawski, and Sinding, shifts perspective towards self-governance as a feature of how redesigned managerial practices shape frontline work. Each study describes how individuals caught up in new managerial practices and the institutional circuits that organize them engage actively in controlling their new work situations. Zurawski’s study introduces us to the workings...

    • 8 A Workshop Dialogue: Institutional Circuits and the Front-Line Work of Self-Governance
      (pp. 253-293)

      The studies incorporated into this chapter are concerned with how people at the front lines of the three very different institutional complexes work with the institutional processes they encounter, enact, resist, and interrogate. It focuses in particular on how people participating in institutional circuits are drawn into self-governance: how their desires for self-determination and capacities for problem solving are hooked into institutional objectives (Sorensen & Triantafillou 2009). In each of the presented instances, people at the front line “do” self-governance as they report on their everyday activities. Their self-reports are coordinated with the textual frames active in their organizational context. As...

    • 9 Knowledge That Counts: Points Systems and the Governance of Danish Universities
      (pp. 294-338)

      The term “governance” as applied to universities has more than one meaning. It was once widely used from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries in England to mean the way an institution like a university was run, how a landed estate or even a whole country was kept in good order, and how an individual conducted business by maintaining “wise self-command” (Oxford English Dictionary1989: vol. 7, 710). In almost all contexts – except universities – these meanings had fallen into desuetude by the eighteenth century, only suddenly to burst back into use in the 1990s. Their decline coincided with governing...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 339-350)

    This chapter is called “Conclusion,” but in a sense there can be no definitive conclusion. Through research, institutional ethnography develops our knowledge of the extra-local relations permeating our everyday lives; it grows and builds on research; and research adds innovations to the ethnographic tools needed to explore beyond the local settings of direct observation. Research projects such as those presented in this book extend our understanding of institutional organization, of ruling relations, of how texts coordinate what people do and, of course, always with attention to how people experience and are active in these areas.

    A distinctive feature of institutional...

  11. Contributors
    (pp. 351-354)