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Twenty-five years of studying new public management in public administration: Accomplishments and limitations

Journal article
Authors Elin Funck
Tom Karlsson
Published in Financial Accountability and Management
ISSN 0267-4424
Publication year 2019
Published at School of Public Administration
Language en
Keywords future developments, literature review, management reforms, new public management
Subject categories Political Science, Public Administration Studies, Business Administration


In 1991, Christopher Hood made a substantial contribution to pub- lic administration research when he formulated the concept of new public management (NPM). His article can in many ways be understood as an enabler of research focused on public sector reforms. To this day, numerous articles and books have been published, discussing the concept itself and the empirical phenomenon. In celebration of the 25-year period since the concept of NPM was introduced, this article revisits the current knowledge through a systematic literature review of 299 articles published between 1991 and 2016. This approach enables a meta-analysis of research published in five topranked international public administration journals. We identify four important themes as emerging from our review: (a) a reform with a vague intention, (b) the limping concept, (c) the one-sided perspective, and (d) NPM as the new norm. An important effect of this is that Hood’s framework may have been curtailed, leading to a distorted knowledge base when it comes to future studies.

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