The Re-Emergence of Weberian Public Administration after the Fall of New Public Management: The Central and Eastern European Perspective

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Wolfgang Drechsler


After the Fall of New Public Management (NPM) in general and specifically in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), in a world, a Europe and a region where we see the fundamental shift of emphasis from efficiency to effectiveness in Public Administration (PA) practice and discourse, we are aware of the need for capable State structures more than ever before. Such State structures, however, require – indeed, to a large extent consist of – quality PA, and this in turn requires – and again to a large extent consists of – quality Civil Service (CS), all of which does not come for free, or even cheaply. It is, in the end, the model of “Weberian” PA, the bête noire of the NPM. Max Weber himself did not even particularly like the model of PA so described; he only saw it, rightly, as the most rational and efficient one for his time, and the one towards which PA would tend. The fact that this is by and large still the case 80 years later if one looks at the model rather than at its caricature, is something that probably would have surprised him quite a bit. Why is it that "Weberian" set of criteria appears exceedingly close to almost all of the recent principles of PA reform agendas worldwide, including the European Administrative Space’s main standards of reliability and predictability, openness and transparency, accountability, and efficiency and effectiveness? In order to find out, we first need to look at NPM and its fall.

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