Rethinking Democratic Governance: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Chapter by M. Shamsul Haque in Challenges to Democratic Governance in Developing Countries Public Administration, Governance and Globalization: “The recent three decades witnessed massive reforms in the mode of public governance worldwide. This period of restructuring public policy and public administration has been unprecedented in terms of the speed and intensity of such reforms encapsulated often as Reinventing Government or New Public Management or NPM. There also has emerged a series of post-NPM reform proposals—which largely represent the revision rather than rejection of NPM—under catchy expressions like Shared Governance, Collaborative Governance, Joined-Up Governance, Networked Governance, Good Governance, Digital Era Governance, and Good Enough Governance (Lodge and Gill 2011; Ferlie and Steane 2002). These trends of reforms are characterized, first, by their neoliberal ideological assumptions that free market competition is better than state intervention for optimizing customer satisfaction (utility) and cost-effectiveness or efficiency, and thus, the role of the state should be minimal so that a greater role can be played by market forces. Reflecting these ideological underlying predispositions of contemporary reforms in governance are the market-led redirections in state policies, government institutions, and civil service. More specifically, while state policies are reoriented towards privatization, deregulation, liberalization, downsizing, and outsourcing, most public organizations and their management are restructured in favor of organizational disaggregation or agencification, managerial autonomy, performance-driven indicators, result-based finance and budget, and customer-led priorities. It should be mentioned here that while both NPM and post-NPM prescribe pro-market policies and organizational and managerial reforms in order to roll back the state and to transfer much of the state sector role in service delivery to non-state actors, there is a distinction. The basic distinction is that while the NPM model prescribes this transfer of the public sector’s role mainly to the private sector, the post-NPM alternatives recommend such transfer to other additional stakeholders like Nongovernment Organizations (NGO) and grassroots groups.”