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The Politics of Management Knowledge in Times of Austerity$
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Ewan Ferlie, Sue Dopson, Chris Bennett, Michael Fischer, Jean Ledger, and Gerry McGivern

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198777212

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198777212.001.0001

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English public management reform after 2010

English public management reform after 2010

From Big Society to austerity

(p.62) 4 English public management reform after 2010
The Politics of Management Knowledge in Times of Austerity

Ewan Ferlie

Sue Dopson

Chris Bennett

Michael D. Fischer

Jean Ledger

Gerry McGivern

Oxford University Press

This chapter characterizes the overall strategy of public services reform apparent in England after the global financial crisis of 2008 and during the period of the UK’s Coalition government 2010–15. It argues that what can be termed a ‘proto narrative’ of reform, orientated around so-called ‘Big Society’ ideas, emerged around 2010. However, we argue it was trumped in the end by Treasury-led and New Public Management-friendly austerity discourse. The concrete example is taken of the health policy to form new clinical commissioning groups in the primary care sector. They were presented as a mechanism which could promote professional engagement in commissioning. However, they were soon subjected to top-down performance management pressures and systems, including strong attempts to prevent financial deficits from emerging at a local level, which eroded bottom-up and professionally driven innovation. We conclude that the Big Society proto reform narrative failed to consolidate itself.

Keywords:   austerity, global financial crisis, Big Society, UK Coalition government, clinical commissioning groups, public services reform narratives, austerity

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