Turning New Public Management theory into reality: Performative struggle during a large scale planning process

S. Merkus, M.B. Veenswijk

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Within the literature of governance and policy making in the context of planning, the notion of performativity is specifically conceptualized as the self-fulfilling property of performances – such as story-telling – that shape public reality. One specific stream of performativity researchers – dominant in the realm of organization studies – focuses on the enactment of academic theory into reality. We contribute to this idea of bringing theory into being by conceptualizing purposive performative agents who strive to enact a specific theory in reality. Our paper demonstrates through which mechanisms the theory of New Public Management has shaped the reality of public governance at the will of one powerful performative agent. Using a perspective based on performative struggle, our interpretative case study – focused on a large policy process – exhibits how New Public Management doctrine gains influence at the expense of other public management theories. In conclusion, we claim that our findings offer a potential perspective for understanding through which dynamics certain agents aim to shape the public realm in alignment with their preferred theoretical propositions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1264-1284
Number of pages21
JournalEnvironment and Planning C. Government and Policy
Volume35
Issue number7
Early online date19 Jan 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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