In Search of Prudence: The Hidden Problem of Managerial Reform

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Title In Search of Prudence: The Hidden Problem of Managerial Reform
Author Patapan, Haig; Kane, John
Journal Name Public Administration Review
Editor Richard J. Stillman, II editor in chief
Year Published 2006
Place of publication United States
Publisher Blackwell Publishing
Abstract This article argues that the concept of prudence can provide valuable insights into the problems of the New Public Management. Prudence, or practical wisdom, is the ability to make sound decisions under complex, ever-changeable conditions. Old-style bureaucracy severely limited the discretion of most administrators but preserved a site of true prudential judgment at the peak where discreet "mandarins" policed the boundary between politics and administration. The reforms that inaugurated New Public Management dismantled this site of prudence while simultaneously attempting, in effect, to disperse prudential judgment and action throughout the service. Though raising the problem of prudence, these reforms misconceived it as the problem of how to balance new freedoms with new controls to prevent abuse or folly. This essay argues that the introduction of market mechanisms, risk-management and cost-benefit techniques, ethics training, performance accountability, and calls to leadership were destined to fail because they misapprehended the problem of prudence.
Peer Reviewed Yes
Published Yes
Publisher URI
Alternative URI
Volume 66
Issue Number 5
Page from 711
Page to 724
ISSN 0033-3352
Date Accessioned 2007-03-01
Language en_AU
Research Centre Centre for Governance and Public Policy
Faculty Griffith Business School
Subject PRE2009-Public Administration
Publication Type Journal Articles (Refereed Article)
Publication Type Code c1

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