The new managerialism in local governance: North-South dimensions

  • Desai V
  • Imrie R
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In recent times, a wave of public sector reforms has swept through developed, developing and transitional countries, prompting observers to herald the emergence of a 'new public management revolution'. However, this tendency, while evident across a range of nations, both North and South, is a complex, highly uneven and contradictory process. Indeed, we concur with, and seek to develop, the point by Polidano, who notes that it can 'be argued that such a thing as a unified coherent new public management model exists only in concept'. Subsequently, the paper is divided into two main parts. The first provides a brief overview of the broader purported changes in local governance by outlining aspects of Clarke and Newman's thesis concerning the managerialisation of local government. Thereafter, we consider some of the key determinants of, and contradictions within, transitions to the new managerialism in two contrasting contexts, the UK and India. In doing so, we seek to highlight the importance of transitions in governance structures not as some end state but as a complex of interrelated processes which interconnect, as Dicken et al. suggest, 'in a complex and contingent fashion with extant (historically and geographically specific)' socio-institutional, economic, and political structures.

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  • Vandana Desai

  • Rob Imrie

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