Rediscovering public service in New Zealand after 30 years of ‘New Public Management’?

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New Zealanders voted for a new generation of political leadership in 2017 after a campaign for activist government on issues such as poverty, inequalities, environment protection and housing.

This presentation will examine the extent to which this agenda will need changes to legislation passed thirty years ago by a Labour Government where trading operations were restructured into state enterprises or sold, and public servants held to account for delivering outputs.  Public sector organisations were changed to having market and network cultures.

Recently there has been concern that market mechanisms such as contestability and fixed employment contracts for senior managers have reduced the frankness of public service advice and led to a focus on the short term and political.  Sir Geoffrey Palmer, in a Fabian Society presentation in 2014 called for a Royal Commission into public services which he thought had been subject to endless restructuring and had silos preventing cross sector collaboration.

New Zealand has a government elected to provide public sector leadership on issues where market methods have been seen by voters to be inadequate.  Issues such as regional economic development, immigration, poverty, inequalities of access to education and health care will require cross-sector collaboration instead of sector specific contracts and competition.

This presentation will argue that for the ambitious agenda of the new Coalition Government to succeed, concepts such as ‘purpose’, ‘public value’ and ‘stewardship’ need to replace the command and control structures based on economic theories of the 1980s that emphasised numbers based accountability and productivity measures.

Dr Richard Norman teaches human resources management, and training and development at Victoria University’s Business School, with a particular focus on New Zealand public sector organisations.

February 7th, 2018 5:30 PM   through   7:30 PM
Loaves and Fishes Hall
Down the carpark beside the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul
Corner of Hill and Molesworth Streets
Wellington, WGN
New Zealand

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