Strategic choice - Sample Essay
For local authority the strategic choices may include the extent to which the authority wishes to exercise a wider role of local governance going beyond its services responsibilities. They may also include the degree to which it wishes to introduce market mechanisms and the relative importance it gives to services to individuals or to communities. Richard and Rodrigues (1993) argue that there are two types of strategies in public services Type B; driven by central planning and control with implementation within tight specifications and Type B driven by market considerations.
Type A typifies the NHS and Type B has been used for civil service reform in the form of market testing. This essay will now discuss implementation. Implementation of a strategy is not an automatic process; there are two major parts to the process. The first step is the development of an action plan, which is a statement of what, who, when, and how the actions necessary to carry out the strategy will be done. Performance goals and objectives will also be specified. Much of the information needed to develop the action plan will have been generated in Step Seven.
The second part of implementation consists of actions aimed at marshaling and applying resources. In the context of policy change these actions may consist of (but are not limited to), changes in organizational structures, shifts and reclassification of personnel, the establishment of new routines, tasks, and procedures; installation of new incentive systems; retooling production for new products or services; marketing of new services or creation of demand among new beneficiaries or consumers; development of new financing mechanisms; organizing coalitions to maintain political, budgetary, and beneficiary support; and developing collaborative mechanisms with cooperating organizations.
It should be noted that the managers’ task is more than just the internal operation of his organization, they must also manage its fit with the environment. Implementation is an important aspect of NPM due to initiatives such as PPP, best value and CCT which are related to implementation. These iniatives remove the public sector from the point of delivery, replaced by the private sector or the best tender.
This change in service delivery enforces greater importance on performance measurement since the quality of the service provider shall be judged by its performance. This essay will now discuss performance measurement in relation to the public sector. According to Flynn Public sector performance measurement is important “both for the accountability of organisations and individuals and for managers to produce better services13″. Traditional political accountability is replaced with managerial accountability where mangers have to reach and maintain targets.
It enables measurement particularly of VFM (value for money) and the three E’s efficiency, effectiveness and economy. It is possible to measure not only the three E’s but other factors such as accuracy, timeliness, customer satisfaction, etc. This can be seen in the NHS with hospital waiting lists. These measures can be used to construct league tables (school) that can enable both the public and managers to measure performance of different organisations.
This approach has been widely adopted to drive improvements in quality, which is an important theme in NPM as part of charters and best value. Public sector performance measurement is not unproblematic Flynn states ” Measures… appropriate for external accountability may not be the right ones for improving management. Measures, which are used to expose publicly poor performers, may not be the best ones for helping management to bring about improvements. In any case managers will necessarily become defensive if the systems are used to punish the weak14″
There are tools and services that are available to the public sector seeking to improve performance by learning from good practice. Within the UK, the Public Sector Benchmarking Service (PSBS) is the government’s focal point for managing knowledge on benchmarking and good practice. The Public Sector Benchmarking Service was launched in February 2001and provides a comprehensive service on benchmarking and good practise. Benchmarking has been recognised as a key tool for effective and efficient public services.
It has a useful role to play in bringing about improvements in aspects, some of which are shown below, that modern day public sector organisations are involved with. In each aspect, it can provide a framework for learning from those who are doing things well. Benchmarking can be used in conjunction with other improvement tools. They all identify good practices and opportunities that can help improve performance. It is important not to view each scheme in isolation; they may each play a part in bringing about excellence in public services.
The aim of this essay was to critically appraise the following assertion. Contemporary strategic decision making in the public sector, like much of the New Public Management doctrine, should be regarded as ‘old wine in new bottles’ with limited utility to the public manager. This essay has pin pointed strategic management as an important change in public sector management. Concepts such as strategic planning, strategic analysis, strategic option and choice, implementation and performance measurement have been discussed.
These have highlighted major changes that have taken place due to the New Public Management doctrine such as strategic planning, it is hard to believe that strategic planning was not used before the new public management doctrine was introduced since it creates a sense of direction for he public service a quote from Marilyn Munroe in the film bus stop sums up th eold public administration ” If you don’t know where you are going you end up going around in circles”. Where strategic planning is concerned there is no ‘old wine in new bottles’. Does Strategic analysis fit into the category of ‘old wine in new bottles’?
Well it is hard to believe that before NPM the management of the public sector neglected to view its key influences that have an impact on its present and future well being during decision making, but this essay does believe that some form of analysis was used in the old public administration it was not to the same extent as in NPM. Could Strategic choice be labelled as ‘old win in new bottles’? For local authority the strategic choices may include the extent to which the authority wishes to exercise a wider role of local governance going beyond its services responsibilities.
This essay believes that strategic choice can be classed as ‘old win in new bottles’ since it is hard to believe that they failed to consider various options. Is implementation in NPM considered to be ‘old wine in new bottles’? This essay believes no. Due to initiatives such as CCT and PPP etc, which involves public sector services being replaced by the private sector at the point of delivery, implementation cannot be considered as ‘old wine in new bottles’. This change in implementation is a major change in public sector management and it brings up issues such as accountability.
Since the public sector no longer provides a particular service is it still held responsible for its quality of service? Yes, local governments monitor its performance though performance measurement techniques such as charters and league tables. Each provider has to obey with charter requirements its performance may be publicly displayed in the form of a league table. Performance measurement did exist in the old method but is more important in NPM. One of the main changes that has occurred in terms of decision making due to NPM is the change in accountability.
Previously the minister for that department would be held responsible for any mishaps, however under NPM the manager is held responsible. The seven Tenets of NPM by Hood that were highlighted at the start of the essay can be linked up to strategic management. Unbundling of public sector into corporate units by product service. More contract based competitive provision with internal markets and term contracts can linked to implementation. Stress on private sector styles of managerial practise can be seen due to methods such as strategic planning.
More emphasis on visible hands on top managers is seen in strategic management because managers make decisions. More Stress on discipline and frugality in resources use, due to strategic management resources are used efficiently. Explicit formal measurable standards and measure of performance and success, a main concept of strategic management is performance measurement which leads to greater emphasis on output controls. In conclusion a selection of NPM methods of decision making can be considered as ‘old wine in new bottles’ but not all of its concepts.