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New public management (NPM) reforms have been promoted into the public administration domain during the past twenty to thirty years amidst growing concerns about performance problems in public sector organisations. NPM was based on the assumption that market principles could address performance problems in public instititions. Critics, though, cautioned against NPM reforms and pointed particularly toward their negative effects on employees and consumers. Although NPM was originally conceived in the OECD countries in the west to address specific socio-economic challenges such as unemployment and benefit crises, its principles have spread across countries in developed and emerging economies of the Sub-Saharan African region, including Ghana. In Ghana, NPM reforms have been carried out across a wide range of public sector organisations, and have included the privatisation (public-private partnership) of the Ghanaian WaterOrg in the form of a management contract. This study aims to draw on institutionalist and culturalist accounts to explain the impact of New Public Management (NPM) reforms on a range of stakeholders in the African context through case study research in the Ghanaian water sector. To achieve this overall aim, its key objectives are to: • Critically evaluate the intellectual origins and assumptions of NPM, and consider its applicability to the Sub-Saharan African context; • Identify the main reasons and counter arguments for using NPM reforms in the Ghanaian water sector, including those associated with post-colonialism, socio-economic and culturalist accounts; • Explore the extent of implementation of NPM reforms in the WaterOrg, including the use of privatisation and public-private partnerships and the forms of consultation used; • Identify and describe the critical success factors for a range of stakeholders (including employees and consumers) and then evaluate and explain the extent to which they have been achieved; • Assess the potential transferability of this study’s findings to other social contexts; and • Consider the potential implications of the study’s findings for effective public management in the case study organisation and other public sector organisations in Sub-Saharan Africa. This research takes a neo-empiricist approach and utilises methods associated with qualitative research such as semi structured interviews, observation and documentary materials to explore the rationale for privatising the Ghanaian WaterOrg. It also critically evaluates the process of implementation of the management contract, and its potential implications for employees of the WaterOrg and users of public services. This research reveals that privatisation did not achieve its prime objective of improving water accessibility for the vast majority of Ghanaian members of the public. This was primarily because of a complex range of inter-related institutional, socio-cultural and political factors that underpinned the management of the Ghanaian water sector. The PrivateCo’s management approach was also perceived to be divisive and favoured some employees (junior officers) over their senior counterparts on a range of issues. This was because the PrivateCo’s management team lacked proper understanding of the Ghanaian culture which was a reflection of the management structure of the WaterOrg. There were however, some improvements in ‘non-critical’ areas, including information technology through computerisation and customer services, particularly in terms of complaint reporting and payment of bills. This study thus reinforces the argument that understanding the socio-cultural context is fundamental for effective public management reforms, particularly in emerging economies, rather than adhering to principles that are based on theoretical assumptions and or universal claims of ‘what works well’. It thus calls for caution and a thorough review of how policies and programmes designed to address specific issues in the west are transferred to emerging and developing economies that have problems with capacity and weak institutional arrangements.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Management School (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.686503
Depositing User: Mr Philip Adu Boahen
Date Deposited: 23 May 2016 08:45
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2019 20:01
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/12949

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