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. However many of the pre existing agendas have continued and in some cases accelerated, for example the move to more private finance of services in the public sector. The election of the New Labour Government in 1997 did not reverse the reform programme, although it did refocus around their policies of the modernization agenda (Bovaird and Loffler 2003).
New Public Management
Hood (1991) (Hughes 2003: 4) coined the term New Public Management (NPM). The key concepts of NPM emerged as a challenge to traditional public administration in the 1980s In the 1980s there were serious economic difficulties that affected the western capitalized states, resulting in enormous pressures on government spending and this spurred debate on the review of public sector spending across the countries in a move to reduce the spiraling costs. The growth of debate within countries was compounded by the growing influence of transnational public organizations such as the European Union (EU), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. These organizations directly encouraged countries to follow the economic and private management principles being advocated through the use of this new public management and it can even be argued that the global implementation of NPM is a policy ambition of these international organizations (Bevir, Rhodes and Weller 2003). Clark (2000) suggests that the growing influence of these transnational organizations and their active support and steering towards NPM was one of the significant drivers in developing the view of a global structural trend of NPM.
There is a general consensus of the key components of NPM, although there can be