New public management and the reform of education

European lessons for policy and practice

Edited by Helen M. Gunter, Emiliano Grimaldi, David Hall and Roberto Serpieri / Foreword Gary Anderson

First published 2016 by Routledge / ISBN: 978-1-138-83380-7 (hbk) / ISBN: 978-1-138-83381-4 (pbk) / ISBN: 978-1-315-73524-5 (ebk).

By Gary Anderson

Professor, Dept. of Administration, Leadership, and Technology Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University.

Gary Anderson

Changes in the political economy since the mid-1970s until the present have been variously referred to as neoclassical, neoliberal, late capitalism, fast capitalism, and predatory capitalism. These macroeconomic changes have been accompanied by new forms of governance, new forms of management and, at the level of everyday neoliberalism, new subjectivities (Herr 2015). The chapters in this book take up primarily new forms of management, referred to as new managerialism or New Public Management (NPM). A central tenet of neoliberalism is to privatize and marketize society by transferring market principles to the public sector (Friedman 1962) and NPM is the way this is accomplished at the organizational and institutional levels. Analyses of NPM are in their infancy in the field of education for several reasons. Educational leadership and policy scholars tend to be isolated from scholars in public administration where it has received more attention. NPM also entered education in many countries through World Bank and OECD reports and private consultancies that too few educational researchers study. In some contexts, it snuck in relatively unnoticed at the level of practice. For instance, in the US educational administrators seemed enamoured of Total Quality Management, discourses of modernizing rigid public bureaucracies, and best sellers like Who Moved My Cheese? (Johnson 1998) and In Search of Excellence (Peters and Waterman 1982). With the possible exception of England, where these policies arguably began, there has been a dearth of nuanced analyses in education that move beyond fairly monolithic notions of privatization, marketization, or new governance.

By comparing the ways NPM has entered European countries in similar, but also idiosyncratic ways, this collection of studies provides a more nuanced way of understanding the global enactments of NPM, not as a list of characteristics, but as a series of discourses and practices that enter diverse contexts in diverse ways. As these chapters explore in detail, sometimes it remains mostly discourse; sometimes if becomes policy, but has little actual impact; and sometimes it brings about significant recontextualizations and restructurings at the economic, political, and cultural levels.

The challenge in some of these chapters – particularly the post-Communist and Nordic clusters – is to explain not NPM’s presence, but its relative absence. Or, paradoxically, as in the case of The Czech Republic, ‘NPM ideological premises have been selectively applied for labelling some policy prescriptions that took on un-NPM twists and turns in the reality of the implementation process and that might even have been implemented without NPM policy borrowing taking place’ (Veselý et al. in this volume).

Although I am not trained as a comparativist, it is tempting to make some observations about how these chapters inform our understanding of how NPM has entered countries on the other side of the Atlantic. In a recent special issue of Educational Policy Analysis Archives, we have explored similarities in how NPM is constructing new professional identities in England, Chile and the US, three countries that were early adopters of NPM (Anderson and Cohen 2015; Hall and McGinity 2015; Herr 2015; Montecinos et al. 2015; Mungal 2015).

We were more struck by the similarities across these three countries than the differences, in part because NPM has made such deep inroads into their educational systems. There is a tendency in the English-speaking academic world to mainly compare English-speaking countries, which are precisely those countries where NPM has found the most fertile ground. So chapters on non-English speaking European countries provide a fresh perspective on other ways that NPM has been taken up…

Content

Introduction

  • NPM and educational reform in Europe. Helen M Gunter, Emiliano Grimaldi, David Hall, Roberto Serpieri.

PART I The liberal state

  • England: Permanent instability in the European educational NPM ‘laboratory’.

PART II The social democratic state

  • Finland: NPM resistance or towards European neo-welfarism in education? Michael Uljens, Lili-Ann Wolff and Sara Frontini.
  • Governing by new performance expectations in Norwegian schools Guri Skedsmo and Jorunn Møller.
  • Reforming Swedish education through New Public Management and quasi-markets Nafsika Alexiadou and Lisbeth Lundahl.

PART III The administrative state

  • New Public Management in the French educational system: Between affirmation of the state and decentralised governance Jean-Louis Derout and Romuald Normand.
  • NPM and the Reculturing of the Italian Education System: The making of new fields of visibility Emiliano Grimaldi, Paolo Landri and Roberto Serpieri.
  • The dissemination and adoption of NPM ideas in Catalan education: A cultural political economy approach Antoni Verger and Marta Curran.

PART IV The post-communist state

  • New Public Management in Czech education: From the side road to the highway? Arnošt Veselý, Jan Kohoutek, Stanislav Štech.
  • Elements of New Public Management in the context of the Hungarian education system, 1990–2010 Anna Imre and Ágnes Fazekas.
  • New Head teacher roles following the decentralization of Romanian education Ana-Cristina Popescu.

Conclusion

  • NPM and the dynamics of education policy and practice in Europe Helen M Gunter, Emiliano Grimaldi, David Hall, Roberto Serpieri.
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