Taking Stock: Assessing Public Sector Reforms


417 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-7735-1743-X
DDC 351




Edited by B. Guy Peters and Donald J. Savoie
Reviewed by Eric P. Mintz

Eric P. Mintz is an associate professor of political science at Sir
Wilfred Grenfell College, Memorial University of Newfoundland.


In the past two decades, many of the advanced democracies have
undertaken substantial changes in the administration and provision of
public services. These reforms, labeled “New Public Management,”
basically involve applying market-oriented business management models to
the public sector. Specifically, there have been substantial reductions
in the size and activities of the public service; attempts to make the
provision of public services more flexible, responsive to clients,
efficient, and transparent; and organizational changes intended to
devolve responsibilities while reducing the policy role of senior public

In this collection of essays by a distinguished group of international
scholars, the effectiveness of these reform efforts is assessed. No
definitive overall assessment is provided, but most of the authors point
out the limitations of applying models focused on achieving cost
efficiencies to the public sector, which is based on providing services
to the public in an equitable manner. While appearing to be “common
sense,” the precepts of New Public Management reveal on closer
examination a number of inconsistencies. Although the authors generally
acknowledge that problems existed with the traditional bureaucratic
public service, their analyses suggest that the diverse values and
objectives of the public sector make the simple solutions of those who
would like to “reinvent government” problematic.

Overall, Taking Stock is a thought-provoking collection that can be
highly recommended to public servants, academics, and others interested
in understanding the challenges of contemporary governance.


“Taking Stock: Assessing Public Sector Reforms,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/29290.