FROM NEW PUBLIC MANAGEMENT TO NETWORKED COMMUNITY GOVERNANCE? STRATEGIC LOCAL PUBLIC SERVICE NETWORKS IN ENGLAND
This chapter examines the impact on local public service networks in England of a range of policies which are inspired by the concept of networked community governance. This new(ish) approach is predicated on the belief that local government need not be directly involved in the delivery of local services but that it does have a key role to play in orchestrating partnerships of local providers from across the public, private and voluntary sectors. The chapter first describes the traditional model of the local welfare state which held sway in the period immediately following World War II. Next it considers the policies pursued by the Thatcher governments of the 1980s and early 1990s which are widely seen as having been influenced by and symptomatic of the “New Public Management” (NPM). It then focuses on recent policies and their impact on local government and local governance. It argues that the increasing influence of networked community governance reflects an awareness of some of the weaknesses of previous approaches. However, it has not entirely displaced previous paradigms. Current policies blend approaches associated with traditional models of public administration, the NPM and networked community governance. They are not therefore entirely new but they have led to an increased emphasis on collaboration and “citizen-centered” services. This requires local officials and politicians to work across organizational boundaries in ways that were not expected of them in the past, and it poses challenges to traditional forms of central government oversight of local government and other service providers.