'Rebuilding the ship at sea' : the implementation of new public management in a Ministry of Education regional office.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis is an examination of the implementation of New Public Management into a Ministry of Education regional office over the period 1989-1996. An institutional analysis within a state theoretical framework is used to explore the shift from one logic of administrative action - Old Public Administration - to another - namely New Public Management. To be 'successful', a logic of administrative action has to ensure congruence between the apparatus of the state and the state's political project - in this case, neo-liberalism. Secondly, a logic of administrative action must also align actors within the state so that the 'right things' are done in the 'right way'. The Management Centre provides a case study revealing the uneven success in achieving both kinds of alignment. The relative strength and weaknesses of the logics of Old Public Administration and New Public Management and the eventual compromise in the form of the latter are explained by factors at the micro-level of the Management Centre, the meso-level of the public sector and the macro-level of the governance role of the state in education. It is suggested here that a compromise in the form of New Public Management was inevitable because of the nature of the state's governance role in education and because of the institutional characteristics of the shift to New Public Management. Through unpacking the 'black box' of the state this thesis explains how the neo-liberal objectives of the state were realised unevenly within parts of the state apparatus over the 1989-1996 period.