The civil service of the early twenty-first century retains at least some of the defining characteristics of the organisation that was effectively created as a result of the Northcote-Trevelyan Report of 1854, even if its origins were elsewhere. At the same time, however, it bears the imprint of the series of significant reforms to its structure and management that were put in place during the 1980s and 1990s, and built upon in the first years of the new century. The fundamental question this book seeks to address concerns the extent to which the Civil Service has been transformed positively by the process of modernisation and change, or, alternatively, has been damaged. Some quite different positions on this question are adopted by those who analyse and comment on the workings of the British civil service. The range of answers has considerable importance, beyond the theoretical interests of academics, because the alternative conceptions of what the civil serviceis, and could or should become, feed into the practical projects of reformers, and indeed the behaviour of civil servants themselves as they interpret and develop their own roles in the organisation.
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