Redesigning Public Services: Challenges of Practice for Policy

15 Pages Posted: 1 May 2004


The paper observes a challenge within contemporary public policy to change professional practices and relations to improve public services. Policy-makers' advocacy of process redesign as a best-practice mechanism for effecting change in public-sector organizations is the particular focus of attention. In both theory and method the paper engages an interest in public policy and practice with mainstream developments in the field of organization and management studies. The theoretical framework links debate about process organization, organizational change, professional collaboration and business process re-engineering. The public sector is not immune from the hype of transformation that characterizes much current debate about organization form and change. Empirical data about several redesign interventions that occurred in the context of a hospital re-engineering programme are used to analyse the rhetoric and reality of change in public services. Contested processes and limited effects of re-engineering are discussed for what they reveal about the prospects and possibilities for redesign to effect change in public services.

Suggested Citation

McNulty, Terry, Redesigning Public Services: Challenges of Practice for Policy. British Journal of Management, Vol. 14, No. S1, pp. S31-S45, December 2003. Available at SSRN:

Terry McNulty (Contact Author)


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