Deliberative Democracy & the role of Public Managers by Louise Horner, Rohit Lekhi and Dr Ricardo Blaug

This is the final report of The Work Foundation’s research project examining the concept of public value. It draws together analysis, findings and principles for public managers seeking to create public value. The report is supported by a range of background literature reviews, papers examining the measurement of public value, sector and case studies.


Heritage, Democracy and Public Value by Dr Ricardo Blaug, Louise Horner and Rohit Lekhi

The discussions in this session of the conference have focused on how to show what it is that is particularly valuable about heritage. Value for money is important, but the public bodies represented here at this meeting are clearly providing other kinds of value that cannot be so easily quantified by New Public Management, with its emphasis on technical efficiency and the public as 'consumers' who need to be 'satisfied'. Public value must therefore somehow articulate the distinctive type of value produced by a public-orientated service - one that reconnects public bodies with the public they are there to serve.


Locating Public Engagement by Dr Ricardo Blaug

This paper draws on the history of democratic theory to diagnose recurrent failures in public engagement. It seeks to clarify confusion among public managers as to the actual purposes of public engagement, to examine how such purposes are best achieved and to explore locations where such engagement can, and does, occur. For those who blame government for the apathy of citizens, it suggests directions for institutional reform. For those who blame the public, it takes issue with empirical demonstrations of citizen laziness and argues that appropriate methods and locations can result in significant increases in public motivation to engage. The paper attempts to show that the ‘participatory turn’ now constitutes what amounts to an ideological challenge, not only to existing public service provision, but also to the current structure of liberal democracy. As such, it cannot be characterised merely as a petulant stamping of feet and endless demands for more. Nor can it be thwarted by the grim realities of creeping privatisation, ornate rituals of verification (Power, 1997) or incalcitrant managers. Instead, before we give up on public engagement, we might invoke John Dewey, and suggest that ‘the solution to the problems of democracy is more democracy’. That, or risk losing it altogether.


Public Value and the Local Communities by Dr Ricardo Blaug, Louise Horner, Amy Kenyon and Rohit Lekhi

The community discourse around public service reform is both complex and wide ranging. Community and locality feature prominently across the full spectrum of policy and dominate large areas of most of the social science disciplines. Of particular interest is the recent shift in policy development towards the ‘redemptive power’ of community, locality and active citizenship. There are a number of reasons for this move, not least the fact that services are, for the most part, directed towards particular places where people live and work – in other words, communities. But the move towards community is also driven by a series of core beliefs on the part of government in regard to public service reform.


Public Value, Citizen Experiences and User Commitment by Dr Ricardo Blaug, Louise Horner and Rohit Lekhi

This paper reviews the existing evidence on user satisfaction with and citizen expectations of public services. It highlights the so-called ‘delivery paradox’, where satisfaction with services is not rising in line with delivery improvements. The paper explains why the delivery paradox exists across many services before concluding with an analysis of how a public value approach can help policymakers and public managers overcome it.


Public Value, Politics and Public Management by Dr Ricardo Blaug, Louise Horner and Rohit Lekhi

This paper summarises the fi ndings of the literature review on politics and public management and sets out the theoretical background that underpins the concept of public value. It explores its potential as a theory of public management, which aims to guide the actions of public managers delivering services to the public funded through taxation.


Democratic Management and Public Service Reform by Dr Ricardo Blaug and Rohit Lekhi

Democratic Management is a theoretically informed and empirically evidenced practical lever for change. It seeks to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of public organisations and to provide the much needed legitimacy for such enhancements. Democratic Management aims to fill the gap between what have become the largely empty ideals of public engagement, and the menus of participatory methods that are so often impossible to implement. By focusing on a situated agent of organisational change - the democratic manager - and addressing the real problems s/he faces, Democratic Management shows how management and democracy can be brought together to create value, increase social productivity and reconnect management with the public. This, then, is an attempt to radically strengthen the hand of public managers by reconnecting them to their publics. 


Demonstrating Public Service Responsiveness by Dr Ricardo Blaug and Rohit Lekhi

For democracy to function effectively, public services must be responsive to citizen-user opinions and needs. Yet at the same time, elected officials and senior public managers must work to inform the opinions of the public so that their demands are realistic, fundable and something more than special interest. Democracy should thus be a two-way street. 


Advice to Kings by Dr Ricardo Blaug

Five hundred years ago, the then unemployed Niccolo Machiavelli applied to the Great Prince Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino, for a job. As part of his application, he supplied a small monograph he had written on how to gain and keep power. Machiavelli sought to raise certain concerns to which all leadership must attend. In the same spirit, though with less wit, I ask you to consider this personal statement, which you have requested in support of my application for employment. I am, as I will here demonstrate, keen and ready for the challenge you offer. Were I to secure the position, I would certainly work to preserve authority and to illuminate the forces that threaten it.


Citizenship and Political Judgement: Between Discourse Ethics and Phronesis by Dr Ricardo Blaug

Political judgment is notoriously hard to theorise, and in the recent debates surrounding Habermas’s discourse ethics we encounter classic disagreements around the nature, operation and validity of such judgments. This paper evaluates Habermas’s account of political judgment and explores the problems raised by his critics. It then focuses on the contentious role played by universals within his account. What emerges is a reformulated theory of judgment based on the thin universalism of fair deliberation, and a description of a sub-set of judgments, termed “democratic judgments”, which are oriented to the preservation of democracy. 


Democracy, Real and Ideal: Discourse Ethics and Radical Politics by Dr Ricardo Blaug

People who get Alzheimer's disease do not immediately lose their minds. Rather the onset is gradual, so that between health and complete dysfunction is a heartbreaking period where short-term memory and internal behaviour controls are progressively eroded yet the person retains sufficient insight to be aware that they are changing. During this period, they are a spectator at their own deterioration. 


Direct Accountability at the End by Dr Ricardo Blaug

In front of a Deliberative Poll of 400 citizens in Manchester in 1994, Tony Blair was asked whether his very accomplished answers were really to be believed. Smiling mischievously, he replied "ask me back afterwards." In our democracy, we have no tradition of calling officials to account on completion of their term. For all our talk of participatory democracy and active citizenship, we make no use of time-tested direct mechanisms for public accountability and have generally strayed little from the vote as the centrepiece of both democratic participation and accountability.