European Political Science Review

Research Article

Democracy and administrative policy: contrasting elements of New Public Management (NPM) and post-NPM

Tom Christensena1 c1 and Per Lægreida2 c1

a1 Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

a2 Professor, Department of Administration and Organization Theory, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway


This article presents an analytical platform for discussing and analyzing administrative reforms in terms of democracy. First, we present the democratic theory positions represented by output democracy and input democracy. These two positions are used to classify different types of reform. The second explanatory approach on democracy and reforms is transformative, and it applies a mixture of external features, domestic administrative culture, and polity features to understand variations in the democratic aspects of public sector reforms. Central issues are whether these reforms can be seen as alternatives or whether they complement each other in terms of layering processes. Third, we take a broad overview of New Public Management (NPM) and post-NPM reforms and carry out an in-depth analysis of a new administrative policy report by the Norwegian centre-left government. Finally, we discuss briefly the broader comparative implications of our findings.

(Online publication February 25 2011)


  • NPM;
  • post-NPM;
  • administrative policy;
  • administrative reform;
  • whole-of-government;
  • democracy