- Paperback: 242 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 3 edition (April 17, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765626268
- ISBN-13: 978-0765626264
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #890,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The New Public Service: Serving, Not Steering 3rd Edition
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The "New Public Management" uses a different metaphor, "steering." The authors note (page 13): "They are urged to 'steer, not row,' meaning they should not assume the burden of service delivery themselves, but, wherever possible, should define programs that others would then carry out, through contracting or other such relationships. . . .New Public Management [NPM] relies heavily on market mechanisms to guide public programs."
And, finally, the preferred metaphor of the Denhardts, "serving." Their "New Public Service" would focus on "listening" to and "serving" the public. They observe that NPM forgets who owns the boat. That is, government belongs to the people, not the "steerers"; ". . .public administrators should focus on their responsibility to serve and empower citizens as they manage public organizations and implement public policy." (page 23).
One of the more interesting themes that are addressed in this volume: NPM looks at people as customers and tries to figure out how best to make consumers satisfied; the authors of this volume argue that we are to serve citizens, not create satisfied customers. In a democracy, citizenship means something and the people should be engaged through the New Public Service. With its market-oriented perspective, according to the authors, NPM does not consider citizenship as a critical factor.
This is a well written and thought provoking essay, well worth reading by those interested in contemporary public administration, by the idea of public service, and by those wondering how democracy can thrive in a complex organizational world.
Updated 6/2013: I've now had this text assigned for three separate courses. The most frustrating part of this book, as someone who works in public administration, is that it is idealistic and in someways presents an ideal without any practical implementation. There are some good ideas, and theoretical arguments presented, but it lacks any tangible suggestions for implementing change. Anyone can suggest lofty ideas and reform, but without any indications on how to make this theory relevant and implementable, it remains one of my least favorite books read in my graduate program.