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The New Public Service: Serving Rather Than Steering

Author(s): Robert B. Denhardt and Janet Vinzant Denhardt


Source: Public Administration Review, Vol. 60, No. 6 (Nov. - Dec., 2000), pp. 549-559
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Society for Public Administration
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RobertB. Denhardt
JanetVinzantDenhardt
ArizonaStateUniversity

The

New

Serving

Public
Rather

Service:
than

Steering

TheNewPublicManagement
haschampioned
a visionof publicmanagers
as theentrepreneursof a new,leaner,andincreasingly
privatized
government,
emulating
notonlythepracticesbutalsothevaluesof business.Proponents
of theNewPublicManagement
havedevelopedtheirarguments
withtheoldpublicadministration.
largelythrough
contrasts
Inthiscomparison,theNew PublicManagement
will,of course,alwayswin.Weargueherethatthe
bettercontrast
is withwhatwe callthe --NewPublicService,'a movement
builton workin
democratic
citizenship,
community
andcivilsociety,andorganizational
humanism
anddiscoursetheory.Wesuggestsevenprinciples
of theNewPublicService,mostnotablythatthe
primary
roleof thepublicservantis to helpcitizensarticulate
andmeettheirsharedinterests
ratherthantoattempt
tocontrolorsteersociety.
Public managementhas undergonea revolution.Rather
than focusing on controllingbureaucraciesand delivering
services, public administratorsare respondingto admonishmentsto "steerratherthanrow,"andto be the entrepreneursof a new, leaner,and increasinglyprivatizedgovernment.As a result,a numberof highlypositive changeshave
beenimplementedin thepublicsector(OsborneandGaebler
1992; Osborne and Plastrik 1997; Kettl 1993; Kettl and
Dilulio 1995; KettlandMilward1996;Lynn 1996). But as
thefield of publicadministration
hasincreasinglyabandoned
the idea of rowingandhas acceptedresponsibilityfor steering, has it simply tradedone "adminicentric"
view for another?OsborneandGaeblerwrite,"thosewho steertheboat
have far more power over its destinationthan those who
row it" (1992, 32). If thatis the case, the shift fromrowing
to steeringnot only may have left administrators
in charge
of the boat-choosing its goals anddirectionsandcharting
a pathto achievethem-it mayhavegiventhemmorepower
to do so.
In our rush to steer, are we forgetting who owns the
boat?In theirrecentbook, GovernmentIs Us (1998), King
and Stiversremindus of the obvious answer:The government belongs to its citizens (see also Box 1998; Cooper
1991; King, Feltey, and O'Neill 1998; Stivers 1994a,b;
Thomas 1995). Accordingly,public administratorsshould

focus on their responsibilityto serve and empower citizens as they managepublic organizationsand implement
publicpolicy. In otherwords,with citizens at the forefront,
the emphasis should not be placed on either steering or
rowing the governmentalboat,butratheron buildingpublic institutionsmarkedby integrityand responsiveness.
RobertB. Denhardtis a professorin theSchoolof PublicAffairsat Arizona
State Universityand a visitingscholarat the Universityof Delaware.Dr.
Denhardtis a pastpresidentof theAmericanSocietyforPublicAdministration,and thefounderand firstchairof ASPA'sNationalCampaignforPublic
Service,an effortto assertthedignityand worthof publicserviceacrossthe
nation.He is also a memberof theNationalAcademyof PublicAdministrationand a fellowof theCanadianCentreforManagementDevelopment.
Dr.
Denhardthas published14 books,includingTheoriesof PublicOrganization,PublicAdministration:
An ActionOrientation,Inthe Shadowof Organization,ThePursuit
of Significance,ExecutiveLeadership
in the PublicService, andTheRevitalization
of the PublicService.He holdsa doctoratefrom
the University
of Kentucky.
Email:rbd@asu.edu
JanetVinzantDenhardtis a professorin theSchoolof PublicAffairsat Arizona StateUniversity.
Herteachingand researchinterestslie primarily
in organizationtheoryandorganizationalbehavior.
LaneCrothers),
Herbook(with
Street-Level
Discretion
Leadership:
and Legitimacy
in Front-Line
PublicService,
was recentlypublishedby the GeorgetownUniversity
Press.Inaddition,Dr.
Denhardthas publishednumerousarticlesin journalssuchas Administration
and Society,AmericanReviewof PublicAdministration,
PublicProductivity
andManagement
Review,andPublicAdministration
Theoryand Praxis.Prior
to joininghe facultyat ArizonaState,Dr.Denhardttaughtat EasternWashand servedin a varietyof administrative
ingtonUniversity
and consulting
positions.Sheholdsa doctoratefromtheUniversity
of Southern
California.
Email:
jdenhardt@asu.edu
TheNew PublicService:ServingRatherthanSteering 549

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Background
As it is used here, the "New Public Management"refers to a clusterof ideas and practices(includingreinvention and neomanagerialism)that seek, at theircore, to use
private-sectorand business approachesin the public sector.While there have long been calls to "rungovernment
like a business,"the contemporaryversion of this debate
in this country was sparked in the 1990s by President
Clinton's and Vice President Gore's initiative to "make
governmentworkbetterandcost less." Modeledafterconcepts and ideas promotedin Osborneand Gaebler's 1992
book ReinventingGovernment(as well as managerialist
effortsin a varietyof othercountries,especiallyGreatBritain and New Zealand),the Clinton administrationchampioned a varietyof reformsand projectsunderthe mantle
of the NationalPerformanceReview. In part,whathas distinguished these reforms and similar efforts at the state
andlocal level, fromolderversionsof the run-governmentlike-a-businessmovement is that they involve more than
just using the techniquesof business.Rather,the New Public Managementhas become a normativemodel, one signaling a profoundshift in how we think aboutthe role of
the natureof the profession,andhow
publicadministrators,
and why we do what we do.
Yet many scholarsand practitionershave continuedto
express concerns aboutthe New Public Managementand
the role for public managersthis model suggests. For example, in a recent Public AdministrationReview symposium on leadership,democracy,and public management,
a numberof authorsthoughtfullyconsideredthe opportunities and challenges presentedby the New Public Management.Those challengingthe New Public Management
in the symposium and elsewhere ask questions about the
inherentcontradictionsin the movement (Fox 1996), the
values promoted by it (deLeon and Denhardt 2000;
Frederickson1996; Schachter1997);the tensionsbetween
the emphasis on decentralizationpromotedin the market
model and the need for coordinationin the public sector
(Peters and Savoie 1996); the implied roles and relationships of the executive andlegislativebranches(Carrolland
Lynn 1996);andthe implicationsof the privatizationmovementfor democraticvaluesandthe publicinterest(McCabe
and Vinzant 1999). Othershave suggestedthat public entrepreneurshipand what Terry (1993, 1998) has called
threatento underminedemocraticand
"neomanagerialism"
constitutionalvalues such as fairness,justice, representation, and participation.
We would like to suggest that, beyond these separate
critiques,what is missing is a set of organizingprinciples
for an alternativeto the New Public Management.We reject the notion that the reinvented,market-orientedNew
Public Managementshould only be comparedto the old

public administration,which, despite its many important


contributions,has come to be seen as synonymous with
bureaucracy,hierarchy,andcontrol.If thatis the comparison, the New Public Managementwill always win. We
would like to suggest instead that the New Public Managementshouldbe contrastedwith whatwe termthe "New
Public Service,"a set of ideas aboutthe role of public administrationin the governancesystem thatplaces citizens
at the center.
While there have been many challenges to the New
Public Managementand many alternativeideas prominently advancedby scholarsand practitioners,therehave
been no attemptsto organizethese efforts and underscore
their common themes. This article is an effort to do so.
First,it briefly summarizesthe foundationsand majorargumentsof the new publicmanagementas it contrastswith
the old public administration.It then describesan alternative normativemodel we call the "New Public Service."
This new model furtherclarifies the debateby suggesting
new ways of thinkingaboutthe strengthsand weaknesses
of all three approaches.We conclude by consideringthe
implicationsof placing citizens, citizenship,and the public interestat the forefrontof a New Public Service.

TheNew PublicManagementand the


Old PublicAdministration
Over the past decade and a half, the New Public Management(again, includingthe reinventionmovementand
the new managerialism)has literallyswept the nationand
the world. The common theme in the myriadapplications
of these ideas has been the use of marketmechanismsand
terminology,in whichtherelationshipbetweenpublicagencies and their customers is understoodas based on selfinterest,involving transactionssimilarto those occurring
in the marketplace.Public managersare urged to "steer,
not row" their organizations,and they are challenged to
find new andinnovativeways to achieveresultsor to privatize functionspreviouslyprovidedby government.
In the past two decades, many publicjurisdictions and
agencies have initiated efforts to increase productivity
andto find alternativeservice-deliverymechanismsbased
on public-choice assumptions and perspectives. Public
managershave concentratedon accountabilityand high
performanceand have sought to restructurebureaucratic
agencies, redefine organizational missions, streamline
agency processes, and decentralize decision making. In
many cases, governmentsand governmentagencies have
succeeded in privatizing previously public functions,
holdingtop executives accountablefor performancegoals,
establishing new processes for measuring productivity
and effectiveness, and reengineering departmentalsystems to reflect a strengthenedcommitment to account-

2000,Vol.60, No.6
Review* November/December
Administration
550 Public

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The New Public Managementis notjust the implemenability (Aristigueta 1999; Barzelay 1992; Boston et al.
1996; Kearns 1996). The effectiveness of this reform tation of new techniques, it carries with it a new set of
agenda in the United States, as well as in a number of values, specifically a set of values largely drawnfrom the
other countries, has put governments aroundthe world private sector.As we have alreadynoted, there is a longon notice that new standardsare being sought and new standingtraditionin public administrationsupportingthe
roles established.
idea that "governmentshouldbe runlike a business."For
These ideas were crystallized and popularized by the most part, this recommendationhas meant that govOsborne and Gaebler's book, Reinventing Government ernment agencies should adopt practices, ranging from
(1992; see also Osborneand Plastrik1997). Osborneand "scientific management"to "totalquality management,"
Gaebler provided a number of now-familiar principles thathave been founduseful in the privatesector.The New
throughwhich "publicentrepreneurs"might bring about Public Managementtakes this idea one step further,argumassive governmentalreform-ideas that remain at the ing that governmentshouldnot only adoptthe techniques
core of the New PublicManagement.OsborneandGaebler of business administration,but should adoptcertainbusiintendedthese principlesto serve as a new conceptualor ness values as well. The New Public Managementthus
normativeframeworkfor public administration,an ana- becomes a normativemodel for public administrationand
lytical checklist to transformthe actions of government: public management.
"Whatwe are describingis nothingless than a shift in the
In making their case, proponentsof New Public Manbasic model of governanceused in America.This shift is agementhave often used the old public administrationas
underway all aroundus, but because we are not looking a foil, against which the principles of entrepreneurship
for it, because we assume thatall governmentshave to be can be seen as clearly superior.For example, Osborne
big, centralized,and bureaucratic,we seldom see it. We and Gaebler contrasttheir principles with an alternative
are blind to the new realities, because they do not fit our of formal bureaucraciesplagued with excessive rules,
preconceptions"(1992, 321).
boundby rigid budgetingandpersonnelsystems, andpreOtherintellectualjustificationsfor the New PublicMan- occupiedwith control.These traditionalbureaucraciesare
agement evolved as well. These justifications, as Lynn described as ignoring citizens, shunninginnovation, and
(1996) notes,largelycamefromthe "publicpolicy"schools serving their own needs. According to Osborne and
that developed in the 1970s and from the "managerialist" Gaebler, "The kind of governments that developed durmovementaroundthe world(Pollitt1990). Kabooliannotes ing the industrialera, with their sluggish, centralizedbuthat the New Public Managementrelies on "market-like reaucracies, their preoccupation with rules and regulaarrangementssuch as competitionwithin units of govern- tions, andtheirhierarchicalchainsof command,no longer
ment and across governmentboundariesto the non-profit work very well" (1992, 11-12). In fact, while they served
andfor-profitsectors,performancebonuses, andpenalties their earlier purposes, "bureaucratic institutions ... in(to) loosen the inefficient monopoly franchise of public creasingly fail us" (15).
agencies and public employees" (1998, 190). Elaborating
What are the tenets of this bureaucraticold public adthis point, Hood writes that the New Public Management ministration,and is it reasonableto characterizeany conmoves away from traditionalmodes of legitimizing the temporarythinkingwhich falls outside New Public Manpublic bureaucracy,such as proceduralsafeguardson ad- agement as evidence of the old public administration?
ministrativediscretion,in favor of "trustin the marketand Certainlythereis not a single set of ideas agreedto by all
private business methods ... ideas ... couched in the lan- those who contributedover the decades to the old public
guage of economic rationalism"(1995, 94).
administration(justas thereis not a single set of ideas that
As such, the New Public Managementis clearly linked all associated with the New Public Managementwould
to the public choice perspectivein public administration. agree to). But there are elements of public administration
In its simplest form, public choice views the government theoryandpracticethatseem to constitutea guiding set of
from the standpoint of markets and customers. Public ideas or a normativemodel thatwe now generallyassocichoice not only affordsan elegant and, to some, compel- ate with the old public administration.We suggest this
ling model of government,it also serves as a kind of intel- model includes the following tenets:
lectual road map for practical efforts to reduce govern- * Public administrationis politically neutral,valuing the
ment and make it less costly. And it does so unabashedly.
idea of neutralcompetence.
John Kamensky,one of the architectsof the NationalPer- * The focus of governmentis the direct delivery of serformance Review, comments that the New Public Manvices. The best organizationalstructureis a centralized
agementis clearly relatedto the public choice movement,
bureaucracy.
the centraltenet of which is that "all human behavior is * Programsare implemented throughtop-down control
dominatedby self-interest"(1996, 251).
mechanisms,limiting discretionas much as possible.
TheNew PublicService:ServingRatherthanSteering 551

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* Bureaucraciesseek to be closed systems to the extent


possible, thus limiting citizen involvement.
* Efficiency andrationalityarethe most importantvalues
in public organizations.
* Public administratorsdo not play a centralrole in policy
making and governance;rather,they are charged with
the efficient implementationof public objectives.
is describedby Gulick's
* Thejob of publicadministrators
POSDCORB(1937, 13).
If we compare the principles of New Public Management with these principles,the New Public Management
clearly looks like a preferredalternative.But even a cursory examinationof the literatureof public administration
demonstratesthat these traditionalideas do not fully embrace contemporarygovernmenttheory or practice (Box
1998; Bryson and Crosby 1992; Carnavale 1995; Cook
1996;Cooper 1991;deLeon 1997;Denhardt1993;Farmer
1995; Fox andMiller 1995; Frederickson1997; Gawthrop
1998; Goodsell 1994; Harmon 1995; Hummel 1994;
Ingrahamet al. 1994; Light 1997; Luke 1998; McSwite
1997; Miller and Fox 1997; Perry 1996; Rabin,Hildreth,
and Miller 1998; Rohr 1998; Stivers 1993; Terry 1995,
1998;Thomas 1995;VinzantandCrothers1998;Wamsley
et al. 1990; Wamsleyand Wolf 1996). The field of public
administration,of course, has not been stuck in progressive reformrhetoricfor the last 100 years. Instead,there
has been a rich and vibrantevolution in thoughtand practice, with importantandsubstantialdevelopmentsthatcannot be subsumedunderthe title "theNew Public Management."So there are more than two choices. We will now
explore a thirdalternativebased on recentintellectualand
practicaldevelopmentsin public administration,one that
we call the New Public Service.

Rootsof the New PublicService


Like the New Public Managementand the old public
administration,the New Public Service consists of many
diverse elements, and many differentscholarsand practitioners have contributed,often in disagreementwith one
another.Yetcertaingeneralideas seem to characterizethis
approachas a normativemodel and to distinguishit from
others.While the New Public Service has emergedboth in
theory and in the innovative and advanced practices of
many exemplary public managers (Denhardt 1993;
Denhardtand Denhardt1999), in this section we will examine the conceptualfoundationsof the New Public Service. Certainlythe New Public Service can lay claim to an
impressive intellectual heritage, including, in public administration,the work of Dwight Waldo (1948), and in
political theory,the work of SheldonWolin (1960). However, here we will focus on morecontemporaryprecursors
of the New Public Service, including(1) theoriesof demo-

cratic citizenship;(2) models of communityand civil society; and (3) organizational humanism and discourse
theory.We will then outline what we see as the main tenets of the New Public Service.
Theories of Democratic Citizenship
Concernsaboutcitizenshipand democracyareparticularly importantand visible in recent political and social
theory, both of which call for a reinvigoratedand more
active andinvolved citizenship(Barber1984;Mansbridge
1990; Mansbridge1992; Pateman1970; Sandel 1996). Of
particularrelevance to our discussion is Sandel's suggestion thatthe prevailingmodel of the relationshipbetween
state andcitizens is based on the idea thatgovernmentexists to ensure citizens can make choices consistent with
theirself-interestby guaranteeingcertainprocedures(such
as voting) and individualrights. Obviously,this perspective is consistent with public choice economics and the
New Public Management (see Kamensky 1996). But
Sandel offers an alternativeview of democraticcitizenship, one in which individualsare much more actively engaged in governance. In this view, citizens look beyond
self-interestto the largerpublicinterest,adoptinga broader
and longer-termperspectivethatrequiresa knowledge of
public affairsand also a sense of belonging, a concernfor
the whole, and a moral bond with the communitywhose
fate is at stake(Sandel 1996,5-6; see also Schubert1957).
Consistentwiththisperspective,KingandStivers(1998)
assert that administratorsshould see citizens as citizens
(ratherthan merely as voters, clients, or customers);they
shouldshareauthorityandreducecontrol,andthey should
trust in the efficacy of collaboration.Moreover,in contrastto managerialistcalls for greaterefficiency, King and
Stivers suggest thatpublic managersseek greaterresponsiveness anda correspondingincreasein citizen trust.This
perspectivedirectlyundergirdsthe New Public Service.
Models of Community and Civil Society
Recently,therehas been a rebirthof interestin the idea
of communityand civility in America.Political leadersof
both majorpolitical parties, scholars of differentcamps,
best-selling writers and popular commentatorsnot only
agreethatcommunityin Americahas deteriorated,but acknowledge that we desperatelyneed a renewed sense of
community.Despite increasing diversity in America, or
perhapsbecauseof it, communityis seen as a way of bringing about unity and synthesis (Bellah et al. 1985, 1991;
Etzioni 1988, 1995;Gardner1991;Selznick 1992). In public administration,the quest for communityhas been reflected in the view thatthe role of government,especially
local government, is indeed to help create and support
"community."
In part, this effort depends on building a healthy and
active set of "mediatinginstitutions"that simultaneously

2000,Vol.60, No.6
Reviewa November/December
Administration
552 Public
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give focus to the desires and interestsof citizens and provide experiencesthatwill betterpreparethose citizens for
action in the largerpolitical system. As Putnam(1995) argues, America's democratictraditiondepends on the existence of engaged citizens, active in all sorts of groups,
associations, and governmentalunits. Collectively, these
small groups constitutea "civil society" in which people
need to work out theirpersonalinterestsin the context of
community concerns. Only here can citizens engage one
anotherin the kind of personaldialogue and deliberation
that is the essence of communitybuilding and of democracy itself. Again, as King and Stivers (1998) point out,
governmentcan play an importantand criticalrole in creating, facilitating, and supportingthese connections between citizens and theircommunities.

TheNew PublicService

Theorists of citizenship, community and civil society,


organizational humanists, and postmodernist public
administrationistshave helped to establish a climate in
which it makes sense today to talk about a New Public
Service. Though we acknowledge that differences exist
in these viewpoints, we suggest there are also similarities that distinguish the cluster of ideas we call the New
Public Service from those associated with the New Public Managementandthe old public administration.Moreover, there are a numberof practicallessons thatthe New
Public Service suggests for those in public administration. These lessons arenot mutuallyexclusive, ratherthey
are mutually reinforcing.Among these, we find the following most compelling.
Organizational Humanism and Discourse Theory
1. Serve, rather than steer. An increasingly important
Overthepast25 years,publicadministration
theorists,in- role of the public servant is to help citizens articulate
cluding those associated with the radical public and meet their shared interests, rather than to attempt
administrationists
of the late 1960s andearly 1970s (Marini to control or steer society in new directions.
While in the past, governmentplayed a centralrole in
1971),havejoinedcolleaguesin otherdisciplinesin suggesting thattraditionalhierarchicalapproachesto social organi- what has been called the "steeringof society"(Nelissen et
zationandpositivistapproachesto social science aremutu- al. 1999), the complexityof modem life sometimesmakes
ally reinforcing.Consequently,theyhavejoinedin a critique such a role not only inappropriate,but impossible. Those
of bureaucracyandpositivism,leading,in turn,to a search policies and programsthat give structureand directionto
for alternativeapproachesto managementand organization social and political life today are the result of the interacandan explorationof new approachesto knowledgeacquisi- tion of many differentgroupsand organizations,the mixtion-including interpretivetheory (for example, Harmon tureof many differentopinions and interests.In many ar1981), criticaltheory(Denhardt1981), and postmodernism eas, it no longer makes sense to thinkof public policies as
(Farmer1995;Fox andMiller 1995;McSwite 1997;Miller the result of governmental decision-making processes.
andFox 1997).Collectively,theseapproacheshavesoughtto Governmentis indeed a player-and in most cases a very
fashionpublicorganizationsless dominatedby issues of au- substantialplayer.But public policies today, the policies
thorityandcontrolandmoreattentiveto the needs andcon- that guide society, are the outcome of a complex set of
cernsof employeesinsidepublicorganizations
as well as those interactionsinvolving multiplegroupsand multipleinterests ultimatelycombiningin fascinatingandunpredictable
outside,especiallyclientsandcitizens.
ways.
Governmentis no longer in charge.
These trendshave been centralto interpretiveandcritiIn this new world, the primaryrole of governmentis
cal analysesof bureaucracyandsociety,butthey have been
even furtherextended in recent efforts to employ the per- not merelyto directthe actionsof the publicthroughreguspectives of postmodern thinking, especially discourse lation and decree (though that may sometimes be approtheory,in understandingpublic organizations.While there priate),nor is it to simply establish a set of rules and inare significantdifferencesamongthe variouspostmodern centives (sticks or carrots)throughwhich people will be
guided in the "proper"direction.Rather,governmentbetheorists,they seem to arriveat a similarconclusion-because we dependon one anotherin the postmodernworld, comes anotherplayer,albeitan importantplayerin the progovernancemust be based on sincere and open discourse cess of moving society in one directionor another.Govamong all parties, including citizens and administrators. ernmentacts, in concertwith privateandnonprofitgroups
And while postmodernpublic administrationtheoristsare and organizations,to seek solutions to the problemsthat
skepticalof traditionalapproachesto public participation, communitiesface. In this process, the role of government
there seems to be considerableagreementthat enhanced is transformedfrom one of controllingto one of agenda
public dialogue is requiredto reinvigoratethe public bu- setting,bringingthe properplayersto the table and facilireaucracyand restorea sense of legitimacy to the field of tating, negotiating,or brokeringsolutions to public probpublic administration.In other words, there is a need to lems (often throughcoalitions of public,private,and nonreconceptualizethe field and, both practically and intel- profit agencies). Where traditionally government has
respondedto needs by saying "yes, we can provide that
lectually, so as to build a New Public Service.
TheNewPublic
Service:
Serving
Rather
thanSteering553
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and New PublicService


New PublicManagement,
OldPublicAdministration,
Perspectives:
Table1 Comparing
Primarytheoreticaland
epistemologicalfoundations

Prevailingrationalityand
associatedmodelsof human
behavior
Conceptionof the publicinterest
Towhomare publicservants
responsive?
Roleof government

New PublicService
New PublicManagement
theory,varied
Economictheory,moresophisticated Democratic
approachesto knowledge
dialoguebased on positivistsocial
includingpositive,interpretive,
science
critical,and postmodern
multipletests
and economicrationality, Strategicrationality,
"administrative Technical
Synopticrationality,
(political,economic,
of rationality
man"
"economicman,"or the selfinteresteddecisionmaker
organizational)
of
in
defined
the
Resultof a dialogueaboutshared
and
aggregation
Represents
expressed
Politically
individualinterests
law
values
Citizens
Customers
Clientsand constituents
Old PublicAdministration
Politicaltheory,socialand political
commentary
augmentedby naive
socialscience

Serving(negotiatingand
brokeringinterestsamongcitizens
groups,creating
and community
sharedvalues)
Creatingmechanismsand incentive Buildingcoalitionsof public,
Mechanismsfor achievingpolicy
to achievepolicy
structures
nonprofit,and privateagenciesto
objectives
meetmutuallyagreed uponneeds
objectivesthroughprivateand
nonprofitagencies
of Multifaceted-publicservantsmust
accumulation
are
Market-driven-the
Hierarchical-administrators
Approachto accountability
willresultin outcomes attendto law,community
values,
self-interests
responsibleto democratically
desiredby broadgroupsof citizens politicalnorms,professional
electedpoliticalleaders
standards,and citizeninterests
(orcustomers)
Discretionneededbutconstrained
to
meet
Wide
latitude
discretion
allowed
Limited
discretion
Administrative
and accountable
officials
administrative
goals
entrepreneurial
with
structures
publicorganizations Collaborative
organizationsmarked Decentralized
Assumedorganizationalstructure Bureaucratic
and
withprimarycontrolremaining
leadershipsharedinternally
by top-downauthoritywithin
externally
a enciesand controlor regulation withintheagency
of clients
Publicservice,desireto contribute
spirit,ideological
Entrepreneurial
Payand benefits,civil-service
Assumedmotivationalbasis of
desireto reducesize of government to society.
protections
publicservantsand
administrators
Rowing(designingand
policiesfocusingon
implementing
a single,politicallydefined
objective)
Administering
programsthrough
existinggovernmentagencies

service," or "no, we can't," the New Public Service suggests thatelected officials andpublic managersshouldrespond to the requestsof citizens not just by saying yes or
no, but by saying, "let's work togetherto figure out what
we're going to do, then make it happen."In a world of
active citizenship, public officials will increasingly play
more than a service delivery role-they will play a conciliating, a mediating,or even an adjudicatingrole. (Incidentally,these new roles will requirenew skills-not the
old skills of management control, but new skills of
brokering,negotiating,and conflict resolution.)
2. Thepublic interestis the aim, not the by-product.Public
administrators must contribute to building a collective,
shared notion of the public interest. The goal is not to
find quick solutions driven by individual choices.
Rather, it is the creation of shared interests and shared
responsibility.
The New Public Service demands that the process of
establishinga vision for society is not somethingmerely
left to elected political leadersor appointedpublic administrators.Instead, the activity of establishing a vision or
directionis somethingin whichwidespreadpublicdialogue
anddeliberationarecentral(BrysonandCrosby1992;Luke
1998; Stone 1988). The role of governmentwill increasingly be to bringpeople togetherin settings thatallow for

Steering(actingas a catalystto
unleashmarketforces)

unconstrainedand authenticdiscourseconcerningthe direction society should take. Based on these deliberations,


a broad-basedvision for the community,the state, or the
nationcanbe establishedandprovidea guidingset of ideas
(or ideals) for the future.It is less importantfor this process to result in a single set of goals than it is for it to
engage administrators,politicians, and citizens in a process of thinking about a desired futurefor their community and theirnation.
In additionto its facilitatingrole, governmentalso has
a moral obligation to assure solutions that are generated
throughsuch processes are fully consistentwith normsof
justice and fairness. Governmentwill act to facilitate the
solutions to public problems, but it will also be responsible for assuringthose solutions are consistent with the
public interest-both in substanceandin process. In other
words, the role of governmentwill become one of assuring thatthe public interestpredominates,thatboth the solutions themselves and the process by which solutions to
public problemsare developed are consistentwith democraticnormsof justice, fairness,andequity (Ingrahamand
Ban 1988; Ingrahamand Rosenbloom 1989).
In short, the public servant will take an active role in
creatingarenasin which citizens, throughdiscourse, can
articulatesharedvalues and develop a collective sense of

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the public interest. Ratherthan simply respondingto disparatevoices by forming a compromise, public administratorswill engage citizens with one anotherso that they
come to understandeach other's interests and adopt a
longer range and broadersense of community and societal interests.
3. Think strategically, act democratically. Policies and
programs meeting public needs can be most effectively
and responsibly achieved through collective efforts and
collaborative processes.
To realize a collective vision, the next step is establishing roles and responsibilitiesand developing specific action steps to move toward the desired goals. Again, the
idea is not merely to establish a vision and then leave the
implementationto those in government;rather,it is to join
all partiestogetherin the process of carryingout programs
that will move in the desired direction.Throughinvolvement in programsof civic educationand by developing a
broadrange of civic leaders, governmentcan stimulatea
renewed sense of civic pride and civic responsibility.We
expect such a sense of pride and responsibilityto evolve
into a greaterwillingness to be involved at many levels, as
all parties work together to create opportunitiesfor participation,collaboration,and community.
How might this be done?To begin with, thereis an obvious and importantrole for political leadership-to articulateandencouragea strengtheningof citizen responsibility and, in turn, to support groups and individuals
involved in buildingthe bondsof community.Government
can't create community.But governmentand, more specifically, political leadership,can lay the groundworkfor
effective andresponsiblecitizen action.People mustcome
to recognize thatgovernmentis open and accessible-and
that won't happenunless governmentis open and accessible. People must come to recognize that governmentis
responsive-and that won't happenunless governmentis
responsive. People must come to recognize that government exists to meet their needs-and that won't happen
unless it does. The aim, then, is to make sure thatgovernment is open and accessible, thatit is responsive,and that
it operates to serve citizens and create opportunitiesfor
citizenship.
4. Serve citizens, not customers. The public interest results from a dialogue about shared values, rather than
the aggregation of individual self-interests. Therefore,
public servants do not merely respond to the demands
of "customers," but focus on building relationships of
trust and collaboration with and among citizens.
The New Public Service recognizes that the relationship between governmentand its citizens is not the same
as thatbetween a business andits customers.In the public
sector, it is problematicto even determinewho the customer is, because government serves more than just the

immediateclient. Governmentalso serves those who may


be waiting for service, those who may need the service
even though they are not actively seeking it, futuregenerationsof service recipients,relatives and friends of the
immediaterecipient, and on and on. There may even be
customerswho don't wantto be customers-such as those
receiving a speeding ticket.
Moreover,some customersof governmenthave greater
resourcesand greaterskill in bringingtheir demandsforwardthan others.Does this justify, as it would in the private sector, that they be treatedbetter?Of course not. In
government,considerationsof fairnessandequityplay an
importantrole in service delivery;indeed, in many cases,
these are much more importantconsiderationsthan the
desires of the immediatecustomer.
Despite the obvious importanceof constantlyimproving the quality of public-sectorservice delivery, the New
Public Service suggests that governmentshould not first
or exclusively respondto the selfish, short-terminterests
of "customers."Instead,it suggests thatpeople acting as
citizens must demonstrate their concern for the larger
community,their commitmentto mattersthat go beyond
short-terminterests, and their willingness to assume personal responsibility for what happens in their neighborhoods and the community.After all, these are among the
defining elements of effective and responsible citizenship. In turn,governmentmust respondto the needs and
interestsof citizens. Moreover,governmentmustrespond
to citizens defined broadlyratherthan simply in a legalistic sense. Individualswho arenot legal citizens not only
are often served by governmentprograms,they can also
be encouragedto participateand engage with their communities. In any case, the New Public Service seeks to
encourage more and more people to fulfill their responsibilities as citizens and for governmentto be especially
sensitive to the voices of citizens.
5. Accountabilityisn't simple. Public servants should be
attentive to more than the market; they should also attend to statutory and constitutional law, community
values, political norms, professional standards, and citizen interests.
The matterof accountabilityis extremelycomplex. Yet
both the old public administrationand the New Public
Managementtend to oversimplifythe issue. For instance,
in the classicversionof the old publicadministration,
public
administratorswere simply and directly responsible to
political officials. As Wilson wrote, "[P]olicywill have no
taint of officialism about it. It will not be the creationof
permanentofficials, but of statesmenwhose responsibility
to public opinionwill be directandinevitable"(1887, 22).
Beyond this, accountabilitywas not really an issue; politicians were expected to make decisions while bureaucrats
carriedthem out. Obviously,over time, public administraTheNewPublic
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tors assumed great capacities for influencing the policy


process. So, at the other end of the spectrum,in the vernacularof the New Public Management,the focus is on
giving administratorsgreatlatitudeto act as entrepreneurs.
In theirentrepreneurialrole, the new public managersare
called to accountprimarilyin terms of efficiency, cost effectiveness, and responsivenessto marketforces.
In our view, such models do not reflect the demands
andrealitiesof public service today.Rather,public administratorsareandshouldbe influencedby andheld accountableto complexconstellationsof institutionsandstandards,
including the public interest, statutoryand constitutional
law, other agencies, other levels of government,the media, professional standards,community values and standards,situationalfactors,democraticnorms,andof course,
citizens. Further,the institutionsand standardswhich influencepublicservantsandto whichthey areheld accountable interactin complex ways. For example, citizen needs
andexpectationsinfluencepublic servants,but the actions
of publicservantsalso influencecitizenexpectations.Laws
create the parametersfor public administrators'actions,
but the mannerin which public servantsapply the law influences not only its actualimplementation,but also may
influence lawmakersto modify the law. In other words,
public administratorsinfluence and are influenced by all
of the competing norms, values, and preferences of our
complex governancesystem. These variablesnot only influence and are influencedby public administrators,they
also representpoints of accountability.
The New Public Service recognizes the reality and
complexity of these responsibilities. It recognizes that
public administratorsare involved in complex value conflicts in situationsof conflicting and overlappingnorms.
It accepts these realities and speaks to how public administratorscan and should serve citizens and the public
interestin this context. First and foremost, the New Public Service demandsthat public administratorsnot make
these decisions alone. It is through the process of dialogue, brokerage,citizen empowerment,andbroad-based
citizen engagement that these issues must be resolved.
While public servantsremainresponsiblefor assuringthat
solutions to public problems are consistent with laws,
democraticnorms, and other constraints,it is not a matter of their simply judging the appropriatenessof community-generated ideas and proposals after the fact.
Rather,it is the role of public administratorsto makethese
conflicts and parametersknown to citizens, so that these
realities become a part of the process of discourse. Doing so not only makes for realistic solutions, it builds citizenship and accountability.
6. Valuepeople, not just productivity. Public organizations and the networks in which they participate are
more likely to succeed in the long run if they are oper-

ated through processes of collaboration and shared


leadership based on respect for all people.
In its approachto managementand organization,the
New Public Service emphasizesthe importanceof "managing throughpeople." Systems of productivityimprovement, process reengineering,and performancemeasurement areseen as importanttools in designingmanagement
systems. But the New Public Service suggests that such
rationalattemptsto control humanbehaviorare likely to
fail in the long termif, at the same time, insufficientattention is paid to the values and interestsof individualmembersof an organization.Moreover,while these approaches
may get results, they do not build responsible, engaged,
and civic-mindedemployees or citizens.
If public servantsare expected to treatcitizens with respect,they mustbe treatedwith respectby those who manage public agencies. In the New Public Service, the enormous challenges and complexities of the work of public
administratorsarerecognized.They areviewed notjust as
employees who crave the security and structureof a bureaucraticjob (old public administration),nor as participantsin a market(New Public Management);rather,public servantsarepeople whose motivationsandrewardsare
morethansimply a matterof pay or security.They wantto
make a difference in the lives of others (Denhardt1993;
Perryand Wise 1990; Vinzant 1998).
The notion of sharedleadershipis criticalin providing
opportunitiesfor employees andcitizens to affirmand act
on their public service motives and values. In the New
Public Service, sharedleadership,collaboration,and empowermentbecome the norm both inside and outside the
organization.Sharedleadershipfocuses on the goals, values, and ideals thatthe organizationand communitywant
to advance; it must be characterizedby mutual respect,
accommodation,and support.As Bums (1978) would say,
leadershipexercised by workingthroughand with people
transformsthe participantsand shifts theirfocus to higher
level values. In the process, the public service motives of
citizens andemployees alikecan be recognized,supported,
and rewarded.
7. Value citizenship and public service above entrepreneurship.The public interest is better advanced by public servants and citizens committed to making meaningful contributions to society rather than by
entrepreneurial managers acting as if public money
were their own.
The New PublicManagementencouragespublicadministratorsto act and think as entrepreneursof a business
enterprise.This createsa rathernarrowview of the objectives to be sought-to maximize productivityand satisfy
customers, and to accept risks and to take advantageof
opportunitiesas they arise.In the New PublicService,there
is an explicit recognitionthatpublic administratorsarenot

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the businessownersof theiragenciesandprograms.Again,


as KingandStivers(1998) remindus, governmentis owned
by the citizens.
Accordingly,in the New Public Service, the mindsetof
publicadministrators
is thatpublicprogramsandresources
do not belong to them. Rather,public administratorshave
accepted the responsibilityto serve citizens by acting as
stewardsof public resources(Kass 1990), conservatorsof
public organizations(Terry1995), facilitatorsof citizenship anddemocraticdialogue(ChapinandDenhardt1995;
King and Stivers 1998; Box 1998), catalysts for community engagement(DenhardtandGray 1998;LappeandDu
Bois 1994), and street-levelleaders(VinzantandCrothers
1998). This is a very differentperspective than that of a
business owner focused on profit and efficiency. Accordingly, the New Public Service suggests thatpublic administratorsmust not only sharepower,work throughpeople,
and brokersolutions, they must reconceptualizetheirrole
in the governanceprocess as responsibleparticipant,not
entrepreneur.
This change in the public administrator'srole has profoundimplicationsfor the types of challenges andresponsibilities faced by public servants.First, public administratorsmustknow andmanagemorethanthe requirements
andresourcesof theirprograms.This sort of narrowview
is not very helpful to a citizen whose world is not conveniently divided up by programmaticdepartmentsand offices. The problemsthatcitizens face are often, if not usually, multifaceted,fluid, and dynamic-they do not easily
fall within the confines of a particularoffice or a narrow
job descriptionof an individual.To serve citizens, public
administratorsnot only must know and managetheirown
agency's resources, they must also be aware of and connected to other sources of supportand assistance,engaging citizens and the communityin the process.
Second, when public administratorstakerisks, they are
not entrepreneursof their own businesses who can make
such decisions knowing the consequences of failure will
fall largely on theirown shoulders.Risk in the public sector is different.In the New Public Service, risks and opportunitiesreside within the largerframeworkof democratic citizenship and sharedresponsibility.Because the
consequences of success and failure are not limited to a
single privatebusiness,publicadministrators
do not singlehandedlydecide what is best for a community.This need
not mean that all short-termopportunitiesare lost. If dialogue andcitizenengagementis ongoing,opportunitiesand
potential risks can be explored in a timely manner.The
importantfactor to consider is whetherthe benefits of a
public administratortakingimmediateand risky action in
response to an opportunityoutweighs the costs to trust,
collaboration,and the sense of sharedresponsibility.

Implications
andConclusions
Froma theoreticalperspective,the New Public Service
offers an importantandviable alternativeto boththe traditional and the now-dominantmanagerialistmodels. It is
an alternativethathas been builton the basis of theoretical
explorationsandpracticalinnovations.The resultis a normative model, comparableto other such models. While
debatesamongtheoristswill continue,and administrative
practitionerswill test and explore new possibilities, the
commitmentsthat emerge will have significant implications for practice.The actions that public administrators
take will differ markedlydepending on the types of assumptions and principles upon which those actions are
based. If we assumethe responsibilityof governmentis to
facilitate individual self-interest,we will take one set of
actions. If, on the otherhand, we assume the responsibility of governmentis to promote citizenship, public discourse, and the public interest, we will take an entirely
differentset of actions.
Decades ago, HerbertKaufman(1956) suggested that
while administrativeinstitutionsare organizedand operatedin pursuitof differentvalues at differenttimes, during
the periodin which one idea is dominant,othersare never
totally neglected. Building on this idea, it makes sense to
thinkof one normativemodel as prevailingat any point in
time, with the other(or others)playing a somewhatlesser
role within the context of the prevailingview. Currently,
the New Public Managementandits surrogateshave been
establishedas the dominantparadigmin the field of governanceandpublic administration.Certainlya concernfor
democraticcitizenshipandthe publicinteresthas not been
fully lost, but ratherhas been subordinated.
We argue,however,thatin a democraticsociety, a concernfor democraticvalues shouldbe paramountin the way
we think aboutsystems of governance.Valuessuch as efficiency andproductivityshouldnot be lost, but shouldbe
placedin the largercontextof democracy,community,and
the public interest.In terms of the normativemodels we
examinehere, the New Public Service clearly seems most
consistentwith the basic foundationsof democracyin this
countryand,therefore,providesa frameworkwithinwhich
othervaluabletechniquesandvalues,suchas the best ideas
of the old public administrationor the New Public Management,mightbe playedout.Whilethis debatewill surely
continuefor many years,for the time being, the New Public Serviceprovidesa rallyingpointaroundwhichwe might
envisiona publicservicebasedon andfully integratedwith
citizen discourseand the public interest.

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