Response to Newsletter

Kuno Schedler

A response to Item Four of the IPMN Newsletter

Although a strong supporter of the New Public Management, I have to admit that the latest research results that come from our project about "changing administrative culture through the NPM" - even if not broadly empirically tested yet which is still to come in december - give reason for thought. We find that some agencies that we have observed have not gone through a change process in terms of administrative culture. It seems that they are handling the new public management tools in the same bureaucratic way as they did the old ones before the reform. Someone here in Switzerland expressed his concerns as follows:

"Bureaucracy has a big stomach and it will swallow the new public management, too."

Maybe this is because of the pilot character: in most of the cases, it has not been decided yet whether the npm will be implemented definitely. This decision will be taken at the end of 1999 in most cantons.

Nevertheless, I have the feeling that here in Switzerland, we have put (too) much emphasis on the implementation of the NPM instruments while forgetting to start a cultural change process with a 'soft' approach. Changing people's heads is not just a matter of changing structures and strategies. But shouldn't we have known this before?

However, don't panic! There is quite a large amount of remarkable success around here. Wherever we have really good people tracked in bad systems - which is: good managers in the administration - success can be observed.
This leads me to a (maybe early) thesis: NPM does not guarantee cultural change, but it eases it.

Let me come back to you with more precise results when the study has been finished. We will present them at the IRSPM Birmingham Conference in March 1999. But I just had to react to Larry's point as it was too challenging ... (thanks, Lar!).


Updated March 13, 2002

Last updated: May 28 2015