Archive for November, 2010

Towards Engaging Communities; Away from Managerialism

Those of you reading the previous discussions on public value in this blog will be aware that it has focused on the way in which the term has been used by NIACE (National Institute for Adult and Continuing Education – the membership group and lobby for those providing adult and community learning in the UK).  We have been particularly concerned with the shift to an economistic model of defining public value apparent in their recent national inquiry which lead to the publication of the papers and final report for the Inquiry into the Future of Lifelong Learning (IFLL). Without re-iterating all the details, it is apparent that NIACE chose to move away from models of public value grounded in traditions of community action and community learning in the UK and instead to adopt a model derived from the work of Moore (Mark H. Moore (1995), Creating Public Value Strategic Management in Government, Harvard University Press) in the US. This latter model was subsequently developed by the Cabinet Office under the Labour Government from 2005 and a range of UK think tanks such as Demos and The Work Foundation.  The adoption of this model by the IFLL appears to have ignored the thinking and advocacy that was aired in NIACE’s own, excellent book “Not Just the Economy: the public value of adult learning” (NIACE 2008) which was based on a more community focused model.  The use of the term public value was much more contested in this book, by writers such as Ursula Howard and Richard Bolsin and we will investigate that approach more deeply here. The writers of this blog regard a revitalised, and networked, concept of Public Value relevant to the post-web 2.0 world we live in, and a critical element in rethinking institutions and policy for the Knowledge Economy. These three posts will update our thinking on how this might be achieved, but first some background.  (more…)

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We promised to publish my proposals for a more positive view of “public value” and this is to alert you to the publication of the first part of this work on Monday 15th November 2010. This will summarise my objections to the model of public value used by NIACE in the Inquiry into the Future of Lifelong Learning and developed from the work of Moore in the US and subsequently in the UK by the Labour Government’s Cabinet Office and the Work Foundation, as well as NIACE, in the context of adult and community learning. Following this, in the first post, I’ll be outlining my conception of “public value” and my reasons for doing so.

Since I started this series of posts we have experienced a change of Government in the UK along with a huge re-alignment of Government priorities in relation to education, training and welfare, with a catch-all term used – “The Big Society”. The result of these changes and the philosophy behind them is another discussion that will be referenced in the subsequent postings, but you are referred to the ongoing debates about this concept for greater detail, although I’m sure we will be coming back to them as we become aware of the consequences of Government action here in the UK.

The posts starting next week will follow the following sequence;

  1. A short summary of the issues identified in the previous posts along with an outline of my position and reasons for wishing to keep “public value” as a means of assessing the value and impact of public activities and services rather than audit and economistic models;
  2. A proposed definition of public value and the arguments for this position; and
  3. An introduction to how this definition might be tested and where the evidence to support it can be identified and located.

As this is intended to be a collaborative activity, I would particularly value comments both on this blog and off-list at nefg1@gmail.com


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