Autonomy and managerial reforms in Europe: Let or make public managers manage?, Philippe Bezes and Gilles Jeannot (Sciences Po, France)

in  Public Administration.

Drawing on a survey of top executives in central governments in 11 European countries (N = 5,190), this study explores variations in the extent and scale of managerial autonomy across and within European states. The article is based on a comparative, multidimensional and relational approach to autonomy. Confirming predictions of qualitative studies, it shows that these variations can partly be explained by the intensity of New Public

Management (NPM) reforms and provides a typology of European countries connecting the intensity of neo-managerial reforms (measured by the declared use of management tools) to the degree of managerial autonomy. Our findings support Donald Kettl’s hypothesis differentiating countries where the ‘let the manager manage’ model prevails, as in the Northern countries, by contrast with those, such as the United Kingdom, dominated by the ‘make the manager manage’ programme. The promise of managerial autonomy has also not been delivered to the same extent across and within countries.

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