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3Key Differences Between Public Administration & Public Sector Management



Public administration is different from public sector management in some ways. Public administration primarily dwells on the implementation of the government policies in the public sectors. The civil workers serve the nation through public administration. Public sector management, on the other hand, is a paradigm break from the mode of public administration, which has been used traditionally, to new ways of administration characterized by some values. The public sector efficiency is affected by different changes both positively and negatively. The major factors which contribute to public sector management include the role of the managers and the public value. The major reason why countries such as Australia and New Zealand have adopted the new public management in their nations is to put an end to the bureaucratic paradigm which is posed by the public administration in the countries.

Differences Between The Public Administration And The Public Sector Management

The new public sector management paradigm is characterized bureaucracy, use of the scientific model of management in the workplace and the policy administration divide into various public sectors. The public administration was mostly applied in different countries in the 19th century. The public administration was characterized by service providers in a monopolistic way. The public administration was done away with in many countries due to its nature of market-oriented management. Public sector management is based on some values which lead to changes in the market phases making the paradigm different from the others. Firstly, the new management is aimed at focusing on the professional management to increase the competence of the public sectors. Secondly, the public sector management requires the employment of the measures and standards which are explicit to increase performance and public value (Rhodes 2007, p. 408). The new management is also focused on controlling the output in the public sectors to manage the markets efficiently. Additionally, unlike the public administration whose aim is dominating in the market monopolistically, the public management looks forward to increasing the competitiveness of the public sector through employing the private sector management practices. The public administration does not pay much focus on the utilization of the resources in the public sectors. Public sector management, on the other hand, emphasizes on the discipline in the utilization of the resources (O’Flynn 2007, p. 354).

In the past twenty years, the western countries are continually embracing public sectors in their governments. The reason behind the dynamics in the public sectors is the availability of various factors which were initially not utilized in the earlier public administration. The elements of the New Public Management model utilized by the western countries include the shifting the earlier desegregation of the traditional public administration to a greater one which will lead to corporatized units (Dunleavy 2005, p. 470). Budget management in the public sector is one of the ways that foster management of the public resources. Initially, the public administration did not embrace the accountability of the resources, and therefore, there was less efficiency in management that while applying the new management strategies. The budgetary information in the earlier public administration models was regarding the inputs unlike the current budgetary information provided in public sector management which is regarding the outputs. Traditionally, the accountability of the budget in the public sector was complemented by the concept of the discharge and charge. The line-item budget was employed in the traditional public administration, and it paid more focus on the terms of input, particularly in control and the allocation of the resources within the public sector. The managers in the public administration had the power to spend monetary resources from the public sector with the aim of acquiring the inputs, thereby gaining the capacity to conduct their roles and responsibilities. The accountability was anchored on the maintenance of the budgetary limits and only the acquisition of goods that had been authorized (Wines 2006, p. 88). Unlike traditional budgetary which lacked the sense of performance, the new public sector management pays more emphasis on the performance and the control of the public resources within a given sector (Kluvers 2001, p. 6).

There are different types of accountability in the management of the public resources which extend far beyond the fiduciary accountability, which was employed in the public administration traditionally. These forms of accountability include public accountability, the political accountability, the managerial accountability, the personal as well as the professional accountability. The political accountability is linked to the public servant services to the minister in charge and the responsibility of the minister to the public of the nation (Tiernan 2004, p. 320). The public accountability, on the other hand, is where the public servants reach the public through media, hence delivering their designated services to the citizens. Public accountability can also be carried out through a survey where the public is required to comment on a given public sector. The managerial accountability creates a whole difference between the public administration and the public sector management. Managerial accountability deals with monitoring how the inputs of the public sector are changed through various processes. The professional accountability is whereby skills of an expert group towards certain duties are evaluated. The personal accountability, which is applied in the management of the public sectors, involves looking into the value and the ethical adherence of the individual public servants. All these forms of accountability were not fully integrated into the traditional public administration, and therefore the mode of administration was characterized by various shortcomings (Kluvers 2001, p. 37).

The governments such as Australia, which have already adopted the new management strategies in the public sectors, have a better balancing of efficiency and accountability in the public sector environment. The balancing aspect does not exist in mere public administration. As the Australian public sectors look forward towards reducing the cost and achievement of better performance than in earlier decades, the government also integrates the quality of the services offered to the public (Barret 2000, p. 58). The new management also integrates the community into the public sector management, especially through the electoral process (Head 2005, p. 442). The involvement of the community is inclusive of the political theory, the democracy of the state and the market capitalism in the public sector management (Adams 2001, p. 15).

Changes in the Public Sectors and their Effects

The changes in the traditional public administration pose as challenges in the effort of the improved management of the public sectors. The changes are implemented through the application of the New Public Management paradigm. Some changes have led to the success of the public sectors while other changes have resulted to pitfalls in the public sectors.

Changes with Positive Effects

The reforms in the administration of the public sectors have brought positivity on the public sectors and more importantly the government. One of the primary advantages of the NPM in the government includes the strategic foresight features. The anticipatory spirit in the government leads to the better solution of the problems which arise, hence better management of the organizations (Leigh 2003, p. 3). For instance, in the defense policies, the governments, and the international policy- makers have dwelled much focus on the ways through which other countries might respond to particular actions which threaten the peace of the nations. The perception existed during the time of the public administration until the Second World War. After the war, nations started adopting new strategies of public sector management, thereby deviating from the traditional ones. For instance, the RAND corporation established the use of alternative scenarios which unveiled the weaknesses of the policies which were earlier used in the public administration (Leigh 2003, p. 4). The strategies have been used in the shaping of the defense accordingly to ensure security within different nations and peaceful co-existence.

Strategic forecasting which is stemmed from the NPM is also efficiently applied in the microeconomics especially in the policy making. The NPM has led to the rise of the Keynesianism, which allows the economists to predict the fluctuations in the national and international economy. The changes in the public sector have increased the capacity of tracing the economic cycles leading to efficiency in the national and the international markets of the public sectors and public organizations. The governments have hence grown flexible in the market and have gained resilience to the economic fluctuations hence easy sailing through the economy. Nevertheless, the forecasting impacts of the new management of the public sectors lead to the environmental management by the government. The public accountability is applied in this case where the civil servants reach the citizens through social media platforms such as televisions and enlighten them about the issues of global warming. More importantly, the strategic forecasting helps nations in the prediction of the future of the nations beyond the next elections. A good example of public sectors which have benefited from the strategic forecasts includes California schools. The schools in California gained a good understanding, and comprehension of the policies’ implication projections as well as the demographic projections hence strategic forecast was achieved (Leigh 2003, p. 4).

Changes with Adverse Effects

The existence of the audits in the public organizations has deleterious impacts such as the additional tasks and the distrust between the employees. The NPM has adverse psychological effects on the employees and organizational problems, especially on the corporate culture. Such issues which emanate from the new management of the public sectors include illnesses due to being over-worked, occupational stress, low morale, fear, and low motivation lack of satisfaction in various job positions (Arnaboldi 2015, p. 5). All these problems are associated with the audit which is the major controlling factor in the public sectors. Additionally, the ethics which are being employed in the public sector management are adversarial, competitive and punitive. The ethics also contribute to the institutional bullying thereby increasing pressure among the civil servants in the public sectors (Arnaboldi 2015, p. 6; Lapsley 2009, p. 5).

The employee welfare has been affected adversely by the new management strategies applied in the public sector management. For instance, the police sector has evidently experienced the adverse effects of the changes in the administration. The new management measures in the police department have increased the workload among various policing departments thereby overwhelming the police officers. Most of the police officers in the United Kingdom report grievances such as being overworked and the stress related to their lines of duties.

There have been several changes impacted on the corporate language of the public sectors such as the health sector. The changes focus on the commitments, the mission and the strategy in the management of the public sectors. However, in the aim of the cost reduction in the public sectors, the public health professionals have been affected through the increment of the job insecurity in their profession as they fear to lose their jobs due to lack of compliance with the law. There are also fewer nurses as the management strategies increase the use of machines in the health centers and drastically reduce the human labor. There is also a class disparity which is continually growing among the civil servants across the different department. The new strategies are seemingly limiting roles and responsibilities of the institutions, especially in Australia (Tiernan 2008, p. 131; Wanna 2003, p. 88). The reduction of the inputs and the maximization of the input as a strategy of the public sector management have had more disadvantages on the employee welfare than the advantages.

Additionally, the detrimental effects of the new public management reforms have led to the intensity of the work practices making the responsibilities unbearable. The commitments to the values of the organization continue to increase the stress levels, making the staff highly demoralized. The reforms have increased the job turnovers, and the level of absenteeism is continuing to increase due to the work intensity and stress.

The public sectors such as the universities and other institutions of higher learning have also experienced the adverse impacts of the new management reforms. The management agendas in such sectors are the basis of the independent thinking and collegiality. The changes in the administration of the universities include the metrics about the quality assessments. The results of the evaluations of quality in the universities have been mobilized to control and manage the academics in the institutions. Some of the metrics which have been used in the public institutions of higher learning include workload models, the citations, the research assessments, the league tables used to evaluate the performances and the activities of the university including the commercial tasks carried out by the institution. Additionally, the teaching quality assessments have been applied to the metrics of the public universities as a primary reform of managing the institutions. Although the reforms have had positive impacts on the quality of education and the professionalism of the graduates, the reforms have affected the employees in the universities in several ways. The effects of the reforms are felt throughout the departments including the student fraternity. The academics under the new reforms are exhausting, overloading and filled with guilt and shame especially during the quality assessments. The aggression among the people is accelerated especially as some of the team members feel out of place when they fail to put up with the strictness of the changes in the institutions. The audit culture, as well as the calculative practices from the NMP strategies, is overwhelming, and the academics have not had the capacity of challenging the universal focus on the elements of these reforms. The NPM is therefore employed in the universities to legitimize an audit culture at the expense of the scholarship and the collegiality (Arnaboldi 2015, p. 7).

The new public management is continually facing a crisis in its application in the public sectors. The NPM has particularly failed in the key elements such as the competition, desegregation, and incentivization. The integration of the new technology has revolutionized the traditional public administration and has also fostered the new public management strategies sealing all the shortcomings. Internal and external communications have been advanced from the initial methods to the digital ways, such as the use of the emails. Record keeping in the public sectors has made the processes efficient and reliable courtesy of the digitized technologies. The earlier modes of administration applied to storage of the information through files and documentation which is outdated and has been replaced by the digital era (Dunleavy 2005, p. 479). The societal information is also handled in a better way through digital methods than the analog administration strategies in the public sectors.


In brief, public administration is general and does not involve the key elements that are effective in increasing performance of the public sectors. The public sector management, on the other hand, involves the detailed mode of administration where accountability and the responsibilities of the individuals are monitored. The new public management strategies were adopted first in New Zealand, and Australia and the other countries followed suit eliminating the traditional mode of public administration which was inefficient. The new management in the public sector became effective increasing the competence and the quality of the services offered in the public sectors. However, the strictness has limited flexibility of the employees, therefore, inhibiting their performance due to increased workload and stress. The digital era has led to the utilization of technology in the public sectors increasing the efficiency and reliability.


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Arnaboldi, M. 2015. Performance Management in the Public Sector: The Ultimate Challenge. Finanacial Accountability and Management, pp. 6-7.

Barret, P. 2000. Balancing Accountability and Efficiency in a More Competitive Public Sector Environment. Australian Journal of Public Administration, pp. 58.

Dunleavy, P. 2005. New Public Management is Dead-Long Live Digital Era. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, p. 470.

Dunleavy, P. (2005). New Public Management Is Dead-Long Live Digital-Era Governance. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, p. 497.

Head, B. W. 2005. Community Engagement: Participation on Whose Terms? Australian Journal of Political Science, p. 442.

Kluvers, R. 2001. Program Budgeting and Accountability in Local Government. Australian Journal of Public Administration, p. 37.

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Wanna, J. 2003. Traditions of Australian Governance. Public Administration, p. 88.

Wines, G. 2006. Comparing Australian Commonwealth, State and Territory Budget Balance Numbers. National Council of the Instituteof Public Administration Australia, p. 84.