Skip to main content

About this book

This text provides a concise and internationalized restatement of the public value approach, an assessment of its impact to date - in theory and practice - and of its particular relevance to the challenges of public management in a time of crisis and austerity.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Public Value in Complex and Changing Times

Public value and related concepts like the public good, the public interest, and the public realm have been actively debated within political philosophy since the time of the ancient Greeks. However, the stimulus for the current debate about public value within the field of public management was Mark Moore’s seminal book Creating Public Value: Strategic Management in Government (Moore 1995). Thinking about public value has since moved well beyond its origins in neoliberal American discourse of the 1990s, and is now at the forefront of cross-national discussion about the changing roles of the public, private, and voluntary sectors in a period of profound political economic, ecological, and social change. This chapter traces that intellectual journey, mapping out the key ideas and debates surrounding the concept of public value, and suggesting ways in which it may provide a compass bearing and a clearer sense of direction for strategic thinking and action by public policymakers and managers, under conditions of complexity and austerity.
John Benington, Mark H. Moore

Chapter 2. From Private Choice to Public Value?

This chapter will build on Mark Moore’s foundational ideas in Creating Public Value (Moore 1995), but transposes them into an alternative framework which starts with the public and the collective as the primary units of analysis, rather than with the private and the individual. Moore’s ideas were developed initially in the USA in the early to mid 1990s, at the height of the dominance of neo-liberal ideology which emphasized models based on individual consumers within a private competitive market (where the state is seen as an encroachment upon, and potential threat to, individual liberty), over models based on communal citizenship within a public democratic state (within which individual liberties then have to be protected).
John Benington

Chapter 3. Privates, Publics and Values

‘Public’ and ‘value’ are concepts with multiple meanings which change over time. Public is problematic when set alongside its usual antagonist, ‘private’. Value is difficult because our language is unable to distinguish between a monetary estimation (exchange value) and the idea of something above and beyond calculation (ultimate and moral value). In this chapter I want to explore these problems, taking a long historical perspective on the public/private contrast, and putting value in a particular context. The main objective is to challenge certain taken-for-granted assumptions about how these terms are used; and to propose that contestation over the meanings that might be given to the idea of ‘public value’ constitutes a lively and fruitful field for political debate.
Colin Crouch

Chapter 4. Creating Public Value: The Theory of the Convention

Over the past 20 years, the view that competition and choice provide the foundations for better public services has dominated government policy. This strategy assumes that the private sector is more efficient than the public. Concomitantly, the civil service has been reformed and restructured, to promote the adaptation of business management to the public sector. Governments all over Europe have sought to follow suit, by placing service delivery in the hands of private (not-for-profit and commercial) agencies. In the UK in particular, the introduction of league tables and benchmarking has measured achievement; state regulations and regulators have proliferated to monitor performance. The multiplication of public-private partnerships and agencies of varied form and power have raised issues of public accountability and reset the borders of state responsibility. Sustained by logics of public choice and an apparent conviction that private provision is more responsive to consumer demand, UK governments have shifted from competitive tendering, to measuring outcomes, to specifying targets, in an effort to secure improvement. Whether services have improved as a result remains an open question (Institute of Public Policy Research 2001; Timmins 2001). The lack of an alternative blueprint led New Labour towards a ‘what works’ agenda for the modernization of government. The problem lies in determining what this means.
Noel Whiteside

Chapter 5. Greening Public Value: The Sustainability Challenge

The public value approach to governance and public management coincides with the emergence of a scientific consensus that the future of human development is being undermined by the rapid depletion of the natural resources and ecosystem services that societies depend on for their survival and ongoing prosperity. Is this just a coincidence, or is there a causal relationship between the challenge of sustainable development and the search for new modes of governance that transcend traditional Keynesian approaches, contemporary neo-liberalism and developmental statism?
Mark Swilling

Chapter 6. Public Value, Deliberative Democracy and the Role of Public Managers

What is ‘public value’? Public value is a not a new term, but nor is it well understood. We find that currently there are five sorts of answers to the question ‘What is public value?’
Louise Horner, Will Hutton

Chapter 7. Choice and Marketing in Public Management: The Creation of Public Value?

We can interpret public value creation as the production of benefits which cannot be captured within the market-based pricing system. Broadly speaking, this is either because the benefit generated is not subject to charge — at least directly — or because what is happening is the reduction of costs which equally are not directly recognized. The two most obvious situations are, first, those in which there is an improvement in quality of the service concerned that cannot be reflected in increased prices; and, second, those in which there are significant changes to the unpriced externalities.
Robin Wensley, Mark H. Moore

Chapter 8. Public Value from Co-production by Clients

Public value is not ‘public’ because it is produced by government organizations, but rather because it is ‘consumed’ collectively by the citizenry. At a minimum, it includes value that citizens can obtain only through collective provision, such as law and order (which underpins markets), remedies to market failures of various types, and distributional equity. More broadly, public value embodies the goals or aspirations citizens have for the society as a whole, founded in social or normative commitments or purposes (see Alford 2002:339–40). An important implication of conceiving public value in this way is that it can be created not only by public sector organizations but also by a variety of entities, such as private firms, community organizations, other government agencies, volunteers, industry and professional associations and others. Many of them have typically been seen as suppliers, providing services on a contractual basis to government purchasers (Donahue 1989; Kettl 1993; Prager 1994). But to varying extents since the 1980s, some have also been conceived as co-producers, jointly producing services with government organizations through voluntary cooperation (see Sharp 1980; Whitaker 1980; Parks et al. 1981; Brudney and England 1983; Kiser 1984).
John Alford

Chapter 9. Framing the Production of Health in Terms of Public Value: Lessons from the UK National Health Service

This chapter explores the complexity of the multiple responsibilities for health-related services and argues that these can be helpfully understood by framing the nature of the activity in terms of public value creation. It draws on a public value framework to explore examples of the collaborations and partnerships that exist at community level aimed at producing better health, and also to identify further opportunities. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the role of the individual and the potential contribution of patient and public involvement (citizen engagement) to the pursuit of ‘good health’ in a way that maximizes the production of public value.
Jonathan Q. Tritter

Chapter 10. Public Value Through Innovation and Improvement

This chapter examines why, how and under what circumstances innovation and improvement of public services may add value to the public sphere. It aims to contribute to the understanding of public value in two ways — first, by examining how innovation and improvement may contribute to the achievement of public value; and second, by using the prism of innovation and improvement to illuminate some aspects of the theory and practice of public value. The focus is on innovation and improvement at the organization and inter-organizational level of analysis (Hartley 2008).
Jean Hartley

Chapter 11. Sustaining Public Value Through Microfinance

Managers create public value through two main processes: a production process and a legitimation process. The former concerns the delivery of services to the organization’s clients. The latter concerns the policies and procedures which members of the organization follow, in terms of fairness and accountability (Moore 1995:53). In this scheme the manager of an organization that produces public value is in the centre of a strategic triangle, whose vertices are: the organization’s value proposition; its authorizing environment; and its operational capacity (Figure 11.1). The organization’s operational capacity enables it to engage in the production of value, conditional on its ability to gain legitimacy and support from its authorizing environment.
Guy Stuart

Chapter 12. Redefining ‘Public Value’ in New Zealand’s Performance Management System: Managing for Outcomes while Accounting for Outputs

During the past 20 years, the terms outputs and outcomes have changed from being analytical devices for accountants and economists (for example, Ramanathan 1985) to become everyday language for public officials. The outputs-outcomes distinction was adopted in New Zealand in 1989 as the central mechanism for forcing accountability and responsiveness on a public service system which was seen by political leaders to respond too slowly to a fiscal crisis. The New Zealand ‘experiment’ attracted international interest as a comprehensive example of New Public Management ideas. As a remote island nation of 4 million people, 2,000 kilometres from its nearest large neighbour, Australia, New Zealand was able to implement change more rapidly than other countries. The resulting public management model was variously seen as an example worth studying (Aucoin 1995), a radical outlier (Ferlie et al. 1996: 250), an experiment not to be recommended for most developing countries (Schick 1998), a system which is ‘getting better but feeling worse’ (Gregory 2000) and the ‘world’s most advanced performance system’ (Kettl 2000:7).
Richard Norman

Chapter 13. Effective Supply and Demand and the Measurement of Public and Social Value

All public strategies aim to turn the public’s hard-earned money and freedoms into something more valuable: for example, security, better health or more education. Over the last decade much work has gone into trying to make sense of this value (see Kelly et al. 2002; Atkinson 2006; Mulgan et al. 2006), with metrics and targets that have shifted attention onto outcomes rather than outputs or activities. A recent survey by the Young Foundation discovered several hundred methods in use, many the offspring of the social impact assessment tools of the 1960s and 1970s.
Geoff Mulgan

Chapter 14. Learning, Social Inequality and Risk: A Suitable Case for Public Value?

Nearly 50 years ago, the celebrated radical American scholar C. Wright Mills (1959) described the principal intellectual challenge for the ‘sociological imagination’: to inquire into the complex links and subtle interplay between ‘personal troubles’ and ‘public issues’ exploring and thus understanding better the relationship between biography and history. In undertaking such a review, the role and skills of the scholar are to ‘shuffle’ back and forth between both persons and systems, on the one hand, and between empirical evidence and interpretive concepts and theories, on the other, in order to throw light on the main problems of the day.
Bob Fryer

Chapter 15. Public Value in Education: A Case-Study

This is a study of the development over a period of years of a large primary school in inner-city Birmingham, which had, in the mid 1970s, major problems of disorder, in an area of multiple deprivation and multi-ethnic diversity at a time of high racial tension in the local community. Appointed as head teacher for an initial 2-year commitment (all I was prepared to offer at the time) I ended up staying for almost 25 years, working on building the school into an organization which would, we hoped, engage deeply, and creatively, with the local community.
David Winkley

Chapter 16. Conclusions: Looking Ahead

The chapters in this book have boldly taken up the challenge of developing the concepts surrounding public value and applying them to different substantive domains, in different institutional contexts, and different political cultures. In doing so, they have tested the generality and robustness of the ideas, but also transformed them, and rendered them more practically useful. In The Savage Mind, Lévi-Strauss noted that all practical tools become enriched with use. As a tool, originally constructed for some particular use in some particular context, is used to solve a different problem in a different context, the tool itself changes. So it is with the tools associated with creating public value.
Mark H. Moore, John Benington
Additional information