IPS WP 11/07 Authorising Environment: Mapping Role Designation and Practice in the New Zealand Model- A review of the New Zealand literature
The starting proposition for the Authorising Environment strand is that reform of public management system to date has been a one way street. By and large reform has focused on how public organisations set, manage and report their performance, paying insufficient attention to the role of the authorising environment, such as ministers, parliament and the media. Recent international analyses of public management reform identify authorising agents as the ‘missing piece’ in system design and performance, emphasising, for example, the formal role of politicians and legislators in setting performance criteria and their absence of understanding and inconsistent levels of utilisation. It is taken for granted that public sector reform revolves around both normative and descriptive suppositions that the signals sent by authorising agents matter within the design and operation of public management systems, and yet we know precious little about how this part of the system actually works.
The authorising environment is an ongoing project, which explores the missing link in systemic public management reform: the role expectations for ministers and the question of what should (or can) be done to modify the way ministers and legislators engage with the public management systems that they have installed. This is about both better alignment (by clarifying the expectations of authorising agents and the fit with what public organisations do) and stronger engagement (by examining what can be done to increase conformance by authorising agents with the systemic expectations that they themselves have set).
This paper is part of the initial phase of the project: a literature review on what is already known about the role expectations of the key authorising agents – ministers – in the New Zealand public management system. The focus has been on the ‘performance’ framework governing minister-chief executive relations, and has confirmed that this area is under-researched. In the second stage of the project this New Zealand research literature will be placed in the context of the international literature on ministerial role expectations and public management design, as a first step in scoping a research question for empirical study.
Published in June 2011