The challenge to the management of public service organisations should be understood as part of a wider critique of the postwar polity. The changing purposes and beliefs about the the role of the polity have revised conceptions of managing public organisations. The creation of a new and distinctive public management has stimulated a burgeoning literature in recent years, reviving a debate about whether there is any significant difference between management in the public and private sectors. Conceptual clarification will prepare the ground for theoretical analysis, the task of which is to enable explanation of managing public organisations in their changing social and political context.
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