Impact of Globalization on Public Management

By Baisali Mohanty

Edited By Nandita Singh, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist


The 21st century, under the impact of globalization, is ushering in a major transformation in the political, economic and cultural spheres across the globe. The resultant effect is change and innovation in public service management. Globalization has been instrumental in this; it is affecting the public administrative system as it is embedded in the state framework.

 The traditional institutions and processes are also presently being subjected to critical analysis. This calls for a change in the management procedures in the current administrative services.

The Internet is a powerful manifestation of globalization — it both results from and contributes to the modern dynamics that, by circular causation, have accelerated the information revolution of our contemporary world system.  By contrast, public administration is an ancient phenomenon, but in the world today, it has vastly expanded its scope.

The second theme turns from the problems confronting public administrators to the methods used to organize and implement policies, with special attention on the reforms and innovations that distinguish contemporary administrative practices from older and more traditional ones.  Although democratization is rapidly expanding around the world, many states are still dominated by dictators or ruling cabals.  Therefore, it is appropriate to look carefully at the processes of democratization, whereby responsibility for public policies devolves to citizens through their representative institutions, posing problems for public administration that differ fundamentally from those of traditional administration based on hierarchical chains of authority.  Thus, public administration needs to be increasingly based on mechanisms that assure the accountability of officials to citizens and those they serve.

At the present time, public administration is being reinvented; it is being subjected to experimentation. The understanding of public administration as being government in action is undergoing a change. The bureaucratic model appears to have outlived its utility and the market centric model has become prominent.

Globalization has a multi-disciplinary perspective and offers varied meanings. Scholars now no longer find the economic definition of globalization to be sufficient to encompass its diversity. They find it too narrow and believe that a multi-dimensional subject can be best understood in terms of simultaneous, complex and related processes in the realms of economics, politics, culture, technology, military, legal and even environmental. Scholars observe that in the present era of globalization, state is not only an agent of its own transformation, but also a major source of development of globalization itself. Globalization is changing the way the institution of public administration operates. According to a scholar Luke, the new globalized context of public administration incorporates –

  • Communication, computer technology and a global ‘info structure’
  • Economics and internationalization of trade, finance and technology transfer
  • Natural resource interdependence in the biosphere.

International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration

The International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration (IASIA) is an association of organizations and individuals whose activities and interests focus on public administration and management. Its main emphasis is on the development and use of human resources. 
From a concept first articulated in Vienna in 1962, the Association, which is a constituent organ of the International Institute of Administrative Sciences (IIAS)[1], was formally incorporated in Rome during the IIAS Congress of 1971.

IASIA Congress, 2000

The expanding scope of public administration under the impact of globalization is well symbolized by the IASIA Congress held in Beijing, China. The themes of the conference were Improving Accountability, Efficiency and Responsiveness in Government: ideas and lessons for the new millenniumThese themes were spelled out in the program announcement as follows:

  • Accountability In looking at and assessing the role of policy makers in government, no subject is of greater concern than that of “accountability. The essence of effective, modern and democratic government is ensuring that policy makers are, in fact, held accountable to the citizenry of their country.
  • Efficiency- The recent times have witnessed the emergence of great demands for “efficiency” within the increasingly complex environment in which public administrators – be they civil servants or political appointees – must carry out their responsibilities. The emerging demands for greater ethnic and gender responsiveness, the development of increasingly stronger civil society organizations and the growing calls for smaller and lower cost government all have placed extraordinary pressures on the contemporary public administrator for more efficient government.
  • Responsiveness “Responsiveness” is yet another key issue confronting the contemporary public manager. As concerns about integrity, participation and inclusiveness have spread around the world, the citizenry of almost all countries are demanding more responsive government.


Executive governments are faced with increasing societal and political pressures. Such pressures may derive from-

  • Electoral volatility and polarization
  • Changes in mass media and communication
  • Internationalization of policy changes

Presidents, prime-ministers and cabinets have found and indeed used different responses to such pressures, many of which include, delegate responsibility outward (such as privatization, agency-fiction, decentralization, Europeanization), and/or attempts to increase grip on their sphere of responsibility (such as performance management, audits, politicization, increased media management). Each of these responses may have substantial consequences for the interaction between politicians in government and their civil servants, and for the positioning of civil servants vis-à-vis their political superiors.


The Task Force on Standards of Excellence for Public Education and Training was initiated by the Division of Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM), Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) of the United Nations (UN) in partnership with the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration (IASIA) in July of 2005. Its members were jointly appointed by Guido Bertucci, the Director of the DPADM/UN, and Turgay Ergun, the then President of IASIA. Various members of the Task Force have participated in or conducted open hearings at many conferences in various parts of the world.

On behalf of the Task Force, the UN has undertaken a major survey of public administration education and training institutions, which was carried out by Jide Balogun. It has also supported the preparation of the volume, ‘Excellence and Leadership in the Public Sector: The Role of Education and Training’ edited by Allan Rosenbaum and John-Mary Kauzya. Also, both the UN and the Task Force have commissioned various papers that mainly talk about the issues of public administration and teachings in this area.

The members of the Task Force are of course aware that the Standards of Excellence may not be uniformly applicable or equally relevant in all situations. However, it is our belief that most of them are relevant in most situations. Of course, we also realize that some of the Standards, as well as the criteria by which to assess them, may be more or less applicable depending upon the comprehensiveness of the program of education and/or training involved.



The traditional theories are being questioned and are required to be changed with time. Public reforms have placed great emphasis on top-down change, short-term outputs and competitive behavior. Public management reform attacks the hierarchical form of organization, which is considered to be rigid, inefficient and slow, failing to attract professional enterprise as they are rule-bound and unresponsive to the citizens’ demands and needs. The New Public Management is envisaged as the means to transform public services from a traditional bureaucratic structure to a market-driven entrepreneurial form that functions at arms from the state. It attempts to create a new entrepreneurial, user-oriented culture in public organizations with emphasis on performance, management, etc.


NPM, compared to other public management theories, is oriented towards outcomes and efficiency, through better management of public budget. It is to be achieved by applying competition, as it is known in the private sector, to organizations in the public sector, emphasizing economic and leadership principles. The public domain seems to have shrunk due to market forces. New public management addresses beneficiaries of public services much like customers, and conversely citizens as shareholders.

This has been the outcome of several changes embedded in the social as well as the political context in the western democracies. Major driving forces include – an overloaded welfare state and the resultant costs arising out of it prompted the taxpayers to question the rationale of the Public Sector. Resulting dissatisfaction in the welfare state led to the New Right Economics[2] that formed the ideological basis for change. Entry of economic and managerial principles into the public sector affects not only the concerned public sector organizations, but also the nature of state as a whole.

The pro-market ideology that has reigned supreme since the 1980s, argues that the government is less efficient than the markets in providing services to individuals. NPE is formed on the basis of market emphasis of the following- downsizing the state, deregulation and withdrawal, privatization of institutions, progressive taxation and involvement of NGOs.

The basic hypothesis holds that market oriented management of the public sector will lead to greater cost-efficiency for governments, without having negative side-effects on other objectives and considerations.

This new theory of public management is very different from the traditional theory of public management. It has developed an analytical agenda based heavily on the concepts and theories of Public Choice Economics[3] and standards of corporate managements.

Promotes the idea of trust, accompanied by division of responsibilities between politicians and bureaucrats. Emphasizes on efficiency. It promotes a new set of values- foster marketization and entrepreneurial skills. Autonomy, risk-taking, flexibility, rewards for a good performance.
There is a clarity regarding the concept of accountability. It is based on process, laws and hierarchical control intended to make the administration accountable. It made administration responsible through elected representatives. Focuses more on outputs. Prominence to strategic role of policy makers. It comprises of varied independent, competing mechanisms and a number of independently operating accountability holders. Here the hierarchical accountability gets diluted.

Proponents of NPM argue that it has brought benefits of cost efficiency and service effectiveness to public and non-profit management, and it has helped to address fundamental weakness in the management of such organizations. NPM makes a case for decentralizing of responsibility towards effective resource utilization, holding individuals responsible and accountable for performance. Public management is an attempt to transform the nature of public sector management and processes.

New Public Management presents political theory of the state according to which,

  • The state must become minimal in nature
  • It must be considered as a simple organization, it’s no longer the ‘organizer of organizations’
  • In accordance with the dicta of the new rights the state must provide minimal social assistance but it has no legitimate role in the quest for egalitarianism and social justice for this would undermine individual liberties and generate excessive public expenditure.
  • State must be sensitive to the clients’ needs like the private sector.

Politics is removed as an obstacle to good management.


  • Since the role of politics is made insignificant by NPM, it lacks a perspective on relationship between the influence of voters or citizens on politicians through election channels. According to Fredrickson (1996)[4], administrative reforms as per this model appear to be apolitical or even anti-political in nature. What NPM lacks as far as this model of state is concerned, is a perspective on the relationship between the influence of voters or citizens on politicians through the election channel on the one hand, and their more direct influence on public bodies as clients and consumers on the other.
  • The relationship between the state and the citizen, which has always been dialectical, now appears to be morphing into a relationship between a producer of servos and consumers. The goal of administration tends to be to satisfy the needs of these customers. According to Pollitt (1990)[5], public services are more distinctive than any other generic model of the consumer for two reasons
  • The provider-consumer transaction in public services tends to be notably more complex than those faced by the consumer in the real market.
  • Public service consumers are never merely ‘consumers,’ they are always citizens too, and this has a set of unique implications of the transaction.
  • The NPM reform, which promoted market-oriented changes, according to critics, seems to be partial in nature, as they were too supplemented by basic institutional and political reforms. Robert Dahl[6] was the first to question the validity of developing universal principles of administration.
  • The NPM reforms basically originated on the western countries and the impact of the reform also varies. As Caiden (1991)[7] remarks, “unless reconciled with local ecology, universal formulae of administration reform based on western concepts were unlikely to work.”

New public management has broadened the managerial choices in the public sector. The most comprehensive overview of the NPM type of reforms is offered by Batley (1999). He finds that the effect of NPM reforms has been mixed at best with some improvements in efficiency and mixed effects on equity.


In the twenty-first century, public administration, as a discipline and practice, is quite uniquely placed. Public administration is presently more focused on resolving the issues pertaining to performance, efficiency and effectiveness. The globalization process is causing the reconfiguration of state, society and government in the arena of public administrating. The contemporary reform movement, like the NPM, is giving prominence to competition, market economy, entrepreneurism and customer orientation, which gave way to new informal and network groups. Globalization, to a large extent, is responsible for this change.

Public administration is in the process of change and reform under the impact of globalization, its arena getting widened and acquiring a new complexion. The present scenario has also opened up opportunities for change and reform. This also calls for acquisition of varied skills and abilities. Preservation of indigenous values, institutionalization of reforms tailored to the country’s needs and genuine participation of all concerned stakeholders add to the creditability and administration and the governance process.








Baisali belongs to the political science department of the prestigious Lady Shri Ram College for Women. For a brief period she has been associated with several international and national media houses including the Hindu, Times of India and Jasodhara Global Media. She has been involved with several national level campaigns including The honour for women campaign, One billion rising. Her contribution to several NGOs has also been quite noteworthy which includes OYSS, Kirti, Nirbhaya and several others.