Janet and Bob Denhardt’s Public Administration Review (PAR) article, “The New Public Service: Serving Rather than Steering”(2000) was selected this spring as one of the 75 most influential out of the more than 3500 articles appearing in the journal since its inception in 1940. Based on this honor, they were asked to submit an article to PAR that evaluates the impact of their arguments on the field of public administration. The New Public Service, which was subsequently published in book form, presented a set of ideals and related practices emphasizing democratic norms and citizen engagement in the conduct of public administration. Offered as an alternative to the then dominant market-based models of New Public Management, the New Public Service addressed core questions about the nature of public service, the role of administration in governance, and the value tensions surrounding bureaucracy, efficiency, equity, responsiveness and accountability.
In their forthcoming article in PAR, the Denhardts revisit the key features of the New Public Service and provide an update on how and to what extent those ideas have been discussed, promoted, practiced, and applied over the last fifteen years. Based on their review of the empirical evidence, they find that New Public Service principles and practices have become increasingly evident in scholarship and practice. Specifically they find that citizen engagement has proven to be both effective and widely used, that the “public interest” is increasingly significant both an ideal and guide to practice, and that the reliance of governments on entrepreneurship and privatization has decreased. As a result, they conclude that neither the principles of the New Public Service nor the principles of the New Public Management are now dominant. Instead, they suggest instead thatthe present state of public administration theory and practice is best characterized as a nuanced blend of both democratic and market-based values. Still, however, they advocate that business and market-practices should be used in government only within a larger framework of democratic values. They are currently under contract with ME Sharpe Publishers to produce the 4th edition of their book, due to be published in 2015.
Denhardt, Janet and Robert Denhardt, forthcoming. “The New Public Service Revisited,” Public Administration Review.
Denhardt, Janet and Robert Denhardt, forthcoming. The New Public Service, 4th edition. Armonk, NY; ME Sharpe.