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The political economy of adopting public management reforms: Patterns in twenty Indonesian districts

Citation

Wetterberg, A., & Brinkerhoff, D. (2013). The political economy of adopting public management reforms: Patterns in twenty Indonesian districts. (International Development Group Working Paper; No. 2013-02). RTI International.

Abstract

New Public Management (NPM) reforms tend to be conceived of as technical, with little attention to political and institutional factors. By comparing choices in 20 Indonesian districts, we explore which of four political economic factors influenced uptake of NPM-based efforts to improve service delivery. We find that democratic political competition laid the groundwork for new political alliances, patterns of patronage, and party provision of benefits that conditioned reform choices. State-led policy entrepreneurship was evident from technocrats in the education agency. Public sector modernization may have increased orientation toward performance, with education reforms adopted by districts that were already achieving relatively good results in the sector. Health reforms were more common in districts that provided more opportunities for citizen participation. The complex interactions among the four categories of political economy factors argue for working within these realities, rather than seeing them as impediments to be avoided in a drive for reforms.