Archive for the ‘Public Value’ Category

The End of Mark Moore’s Public Value?

Reading previous posts on this blog, it will be obvious that a great deal of time has been spent responding the concept of “Public Value”, developed by Moore (1995) and subsequently in different directions, both within Moore’s work e.g. Benington and Moore 2011 and Moore 2013 and by others including Meynhardt and Bozeman, reflecting an interest in the term in Germany and Europe. In the UK, from its high point in the mid 2000’s e.g. its use by the BBC in 2004 and the setting up of the Institute for Public Service Value by Accenture in 2006, the concept has been seen less regularly in public discourse where it was not used by the political parties in the recent General Election in the UK, for example. This disappearance from public discourse seems to follow the sidelining of the discussions, initiated by Moore, which focused on the purpose and values of public services and the pivotal role of senior staff in those services in defining those purposes. (more…)


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Readers of this blog will know that I have discussed an outline of the alternatives to conceptions of “public value” developed by and from the work of Mark Moore in the US and the promotion of this work in the book “Public Value: theory and practice” edited by Moore and Benington (2011). My key criticism of this approach remains that the “public value” defined by Moore and others is not “public” in the sense that publics are engaged in deliberating and defining public values and that there is an underlying acceptance that those engaged in government and public services as senior managers are best placed to form and articulate these debates and, ultimately, determine what “value” is placed on public services. Another strand of this argument could be characterised as “you can have too much democracy!” where political thinkers are putting forward ideas that support restrictions on democratic processes and criticising their application in given circumstances e.g. Berggruen and Gardels (2012), who argue that intelligent governance should replace liberal democracy as it faces crises in terms of funding and legitimacy. Similar perspectives are put forward in Michael Lewis’s “Boomerang: travels in the new third world” (2011)

As I have noted before, this approach is driven by ideas from neo-conservative economic theories and their focus on markets and financial values and “market forces”. This influence is carefully explored in Ben Fine’s work in critiquing the term “social capital” and his key arguments apply here. (more…)

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Valuing alternate views

If I’m setting out an alternative to the visions on public value I’ve already discussed, then I need to show how this deals with the outlines of measurement stated in “Public Value: Theory and Practice” (PVT&P), which I assume, is approved by the editors Mark Moore and John Benington. The authors of the section discussed below are Louise Horner and Will Hutton of the “Work Foundation” whose paper is entitled “Public Value, Deliberative Democracy and the role of public managers” (PVT&P pp 112-126) and it is not surprising that these views seem to have informed the recommendations made by Hutton in relation to the pay of senior staff in the UK public sector, which advised that there should be no cap on these salaries, but that the level of these salaries should be public along with a reporting of the range of salaries in the organisations employing these staff. Let’s examine the measurement  of Public Value. (more…)

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Just as you think that Mark Moore has moved on from public value a new book co-edited with John Bennington comes along “Public Value: theory and practice” and published within the last two weeks (2011). On a very brief survey of the contents it would appear that the majority of writing on this topic emerges from university business schools in the English speaking world, particularly Warwick University, and writers on policy such as Will Hutton. What appears to be almost entirely absent (there is one exception) are any contributions from those working in public sector organisations delivering services, or from communities that receive those services.  (more…)

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Public Value for Publics not Policy Makers

I finished 2010 by setting out the basis of my critique of the approaches to public value demonstrated by the mainstream discussion reflected in the approach to public value developed in the NIACE “Inquiry into the Future of Lifelong Learning” (IFLL) which grew out of Moore‘s work in the USA, was refined by the UK Cabinet Office(pdf) and other writers in a range of different contexts, including Further Education(pdf) and the BBC, most notably the IFLL. I have argued that fundamental flaws in the arguments put forward in the literature I have reviewed are that;

  1. Public value is seen, on the one hand as being a measure of consumer satisfaction with public services and reflects a view of public perception as essentially passive, and in some cases, manipulable;
  2. The measure of public value is set in relation to the salaries paid to senior public officials in the original work or in other “cash” values such as the potential savings created by the beneficial impact of adult education on offenders.
  3. These are proxy measures and poor ways of measuring either the impact of public services or the consequent value placed on them in private or public settings such as families, neighbourhoods, communities or wider society, let alone by individuals; (more…)

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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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