Public Management Review vol:17 issue:9 pages:1305-1332
This article reviews the New Public Management (NPM) literature in Central and Eastern Europe with the aim of assessing whether reforms have ‘worked’. Increasingly academics have tended to argue against the suitability of NPM instruments in this region. To understand the impact of this much-debated policy, we first propose a classification of the impacts of NPM geared to the realities of Central and Eastern European states. Then we use this classification to carefully review empirical studies across the region over the past ten years. Unlike much of the recent academic literature, we suggest that NPM can work. NPM policy has not always been successful to the extent expected and promoted, but there is enough evidence to show that some of the central ideas in NPM have led to improvements in public service organization or provision across different organizational settings. An adequate degree of administrative capacity, sustained reform over time and a ‘fitting context’ are the main factors which can tip the scale for the success of these management instruments. The paper provides a fresh and transparent assessment of a major administrative development in a growing region with implications for other parts of the world that experience similar challenges and opportunities.