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Public services in a “post-democratic age” : an alternative framework to network governance.

Laffin, M. and Mawson, J. and Ormston, C. (2014) 'Public services in a “post-democratic age” : an alternative framework to network governance.', Environment and planning C : government and policy., 32 (4). pp. 762-776.


This paper questions the continued dominance of the network governance approach in public policy and administration and proposes an alternative framework. We find little evidence to support claims for a paradigmatic shift towards network governance in the English case. Neither does the evidence support claims for a weakening of vertical linkages or a strengthening of horizontal linkages within, or across, service delivery chains in England. Instead, bureaucratic and hierarchical structures remain pervasive and power remains highly centralised. The two case studies, of economic development and affordable housing provision, demonstrate how reforms are driven by elected politicians' political objectives and their support of various target groups in society. Nevertheless, policy making is constrained by conditions of ‘postdemocracy’—essentially, the exigencies of contemporary electoral politics and the pervasive influence of business. The study of public administration and management needs to refocus on the implications for the public services of postdemocracy and address critical questions of power, competing interests, mechanisms of exclusion and inclusion, and contested claims to knowledge and expertise within service delivery chains.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Governance, Public services, Public service delivery chains, Economic development, Social housing.
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Record Created:27 Jan 2016 14:50
Last Modified:27 Jan 2016 15:02

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