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Observations on the imposition of New Public Management in the New Zealand state education system.

Tooley, Stuart (2001) Observations on the imposition of New Public Management in the New Zealand state education system. In Jones, L.R., Guthrie, J., & Steane, P. (Eds.) Research in Public Policy Analysis and Management. Elsevier Science, Amsterdam ; Oxford, pp. 233-255.

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Abstract

The enactment of the Education Act 1989 set in motion a reform agenda designed to restructure the New Zealand state school system. School-based management and decision-making lay at the heart of the reformed system. Responsibility for the administration of schools, previously held by the Department of Education and Regional Education Boards, was decentralised to boards of trustees of individual schools. The Act established a model of governance whereby the elected board of trustees were given responsibility for the management of their individual schools with “complete discretion to control the management of the school as it thinks fit” (s.75). Further, principals, as chief executives, were charged with managing the day-to-day administration of their schools.

The philosophy of these reforms was consistent with the general thrust of restructuring and policy change that was occurring, at the time, within the wider public sector (Dale, 1994). Indeed, it was evident that the educational reforms had more to do with issues of performance, in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, than issues of curricula and pedagogy. Whilst the reforms undertaken in the wider sector were unprecedented they were, nonetheless, universally recognised for their conceptual rigour and intellectual coherence (Boston, et al., 1996). A notable feature was the theoretical underpinnings of the reforms providing an “analytical framework grounded in public choice, managerialism and new economics of organizations, most notably agency theory and transaction cost analysis” (Boston, 1992, p.2). Arguable, managerialism, or what is more commonly referred to as ‘new public management’ (NPM) (Hood, 1990), has had the most visible influence upon the restructuring of the public sector.

According to Hood (1995), NPM has seen the ‘… lessening or removing differences between the public and private sectors and shifting the emphasis from process accountability towards a greater element of accountability in terms of results” (p.94). For Martin (1994, p.57), NPM represented the ‘debureaucratisation’ of the public service whereby bureaucratic control gives way to managerial responsibility. Hood (1991) noted seven characteristics, or what he terms ‘doctrinal components’, of the NPM approach: (1) financial devolution to service providers, (2) explicit standards and measures of performance, (3) clear differentiation between inputs, outputs and outcomes, (4) increased accountability of service providers, (5) private sector styles of management practice, (6) increased competition and contracting between service providers, and (7) greater stress on efficiency, economy and effectiveness of resource usage.

Using Hood’s (1991) seven ‘doctrinal components’ of NPM it is possible to conclude that the educational reforms undertaken in New Zealand are an expression, albeit incompletely, of NPM thinking (Painter, 1988; Self, 1993). The key feature of the reforms was the devolution of financial resources to the school site. In the process it has strengthened the position of the central funding agency and hence accountability. Further, the delegated budget enables a shift in emphasis from input to output (results) accountability. Competition between schools is encouraged through the removal of school zoning restrictions (open admissions). Scarcity of resources has seen schools enter into contracts for the provision of inter-school services and facilities (sporting, technology etc.). Less evident is the enforcement of performance standards. Although Statements of Service Performance are statutorily required, the design and measurement of performance standards is still in its infancy. Nevertheless, external agencies such as the Education Review Office do monitor and appraise the performance of schools with publicly released reports.

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ID Code: 18395
Item Type: Book Chapter
Additional Information: For more information about this book please refer to the publisher's website (see link) or contact the author.
Keywords: Education, New Zealand, New Public Management
ISBN: 0-7623-0759-5
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > ACCOUNTING AUDITING AND ACCOUNTABILITY (150100) > Accounting Auditing and Accountability not elsewhere classified (150199)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Accountancy
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2001 Elsevier Science
Deposited On: 03 Mar 2009 15:17
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2011 23:41

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