Accountability and welfare state reforms

Authored by: Tom Christensen , Per Lægreid

The Routledge Handbook to Accountability and Welfare State Reforms in Europe

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781472470591
eBook ISBN: 9781315612713
Adobe ISBN: 9781317044208


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For many years, there has been a growing concern that welfare states do not achieve their objectives, are inefficient and not sustainable in financial terms, and lack popular support. A series of reforms has been introduced to address these challenges, many of them following some kind of New Public Management-inspired reform trajectory (Pollitt and Bouckaert 2011). This entailed granting more autonomy to welfare agencies, transferring responsibilities to public managers or introducing of market instruments and competition with private providers. Traditional service delivery by public organizations in clearly defined hierarchical settings has been challenged. Both NPM reforms oriented towards agencification, managerialism and marketization, as well as more recent so-called ‘whole-of-government’ or post-NPM reforms, seeking to improve cooperation and collaboration across policy sectors and levels, have challenged the traditional welfare state and made it more complex (Christensen and Lægreid 2007; Flinders 2014).

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