The UK is widely viewed as a lead reformer of New Public Management, with evidence of a rapid and radical reform programme introduced across the public sector in the 1980s and 1990s. It is undeniable that the UK has had a leading role in the development of NPM. McLaughlin and Osborne (2002) even suggest that there is an argument to claim that the UK was the birthplace of NPM. The adversarial style of its implementation is also a key feature of the UK model (Clark 2000) and this is linked to the political ideology of the Conservative Government, led by Margaret Thatcher, and the constitutional framework that dictates the pace of change.
The UK had been viewed as managerially inept (Kingdom 2000: 34) before NPM. In the UK in the 1980s it is easy to regard NPM as a direct result of Thatcherism. There is a strong argument that the success in embedding NPM in the UK can be attached to the drive from the centre, and significantly the Prime Minister. However it is still developing, following the change in government in 1997. What seems to have occurred is that the emphasis of the debate was driven initially by ideology but overtaken with debate about improving the management of the public sector, regardless of ideology. The election of the New Labour Government in 1997 could have been expected to have impacted upon the direction of the NPM movement in the UK. ...Show more