iBusiness, 2013, 5, 150-153
http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ib.2013.53B032 Published Online September 2013 (http://www.scirp.org/journal/ib)
New Public Management in Bangladesh: Policy and Reality
Farhana Ferdousi*, Lisheng Qiu
Department of Political Economics, School of Economics & Management, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China.
Email: *dfferdousi@gmail.com
Received July, 2013
New Public Management (NPM) is a management philosophy used by the government since 1980s to modernize the
public sectors. Many developed and developing nations are no w experimenting about the applicability o f NPM in their
context. In Bangladesh, NPM reform ideas have also been recommended by international donor agencies as well as
numerous reform committees but yet the country has hardly made any progress in establishing effective public
management. This paper attempts to identify some administrative reforms in Bangladesh that have the sp irit of NPM as
well some peculiarities that threaten successfu l implementation of NPM in Bangladesh . It is argued that state incap acity,
bureaucratic failure and donor-driven reform policies are responsible for the failure of implementation of NPM in
Bangladesh. Therefore, to establish efficient public management or to follow NPM model, Bangladesh need to have
solid institutional frameworks, sound rule of law, proper control structures, appropriate checks and balances, effective
civil service system, appropriate accountability and transparency; and for these political leaders, bureaucrats and
donor-agencies have to work in line.
Keywords: New Public Management; Administrative Reforms
1. Introduction
Since Bangladesh gained independence in 1971,
reforming the administrative state, inherited from the
colonial authorities, has become a major aspect of the
country’s quest for development. Various governments,
be they military or civilian, have made reforms a major
priority on their developmental agendas and have,
therefore, expended significant resources, both human
and financial, in these efforts. The preoccupation with
reform stems from the expectation of establishing an
effective system of government and resolving the
problems that had hindered its development as a province
of Pakistan for twenty-four years. At the end of forty
years of its independence, the country has hardly made
any progress and still suffering for the absence of good
governance, fragile economy, poor law and order situation,
unstable political system, uncontrolled corruption,
unreliable social services and inefficient bureaucracy etc.
Interestingly, since independence the government
constituted 17 reform Commissions or Committees with
a view to reorganize/reform civil service and public
sector. More than 20 reports on Public Administration
Reform have been prepared by these Commissions and
Committees and some of those reports were prepared at
the initiative of some of the important development
partners, particularly the World Bank, the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP), the Asian Develop-
ment Bank (ADB), the Department for International
Development (DFID), and the US Agency for Internationa l
Development (USAID) [1]. But the recent history of
Public Administration Reforms has become nothing
more than a sequence of reform studies and proposals,
with little evidence of real change. The present study is
an attempt to find out some problems regarding im-
plementation of new public management, the current
trend in the world to reform and manage the public
2. Concept of New Public Management and
Administrative Reforms in Bangladesh
In response to economic, institutional and ideological
changes, as well as criticisms of inefficient and costly public
sectors, public sector reform has become an international
phenomenon [2,3]. As part of these reforms, a paradigm
of public sector management known as new public
management (NPM) has emerged in OECD (Organisa-
tion for Economic Co-operation and Development)
countr ies and else wher e [3-5 ]. Ther efor e, the N ew Pub lic
Management (NPM) can be defined as a management
philosophy used by governments since the 1980s to
modernize the public sector. It is a broad and very
complex term used to describe the wave of public sector
*Corresponding a uthor.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. IB
New Public Management in Bangladesh: Policy and Reality 151
reforms throughout the world since the 1980s. The main
hypothesis in the NPM-reform wave is that more market
orientation in the public sector will lead to greater
cost-efficiency for governments, without having negative
side effects on other objectives and considerations.
According to the OECD [6], “a new paradigm for public
management” had emerged, with eight characteristic
“trends” (listed in modified order, to range from internal
to external concerns):(1) Strengthening steering functions
at the center;(2) Devolving authority, providing flexibility;
(3) Ensuring performance, control, accountability;(4)
Improving the management of human resources;(5)
Optimizing information technology; (6) Developing
competition and choice;(7) Improving the quality of
regulation; and(8) Providing responsive service.
States opting for NPM have not necessarily
incorporated all these elements of NPM. Most countries
have been selective in incorporating those elements of
NPM that they felt were best suited to their individual
administrative milieu, economic and social condition,
and governance culture. NPM has also been an evolving
concept with states experimenting with approaches and
mechanisms. These include policy guidance to the
government through stakeholders’ councils (the
‘deliberations councils’ of Japan) for the management of
sectors, industries, issues etc., departmental boards as in
Britain, policy analysis and evaluation cells as in Japan
and other countries, the minister’s ability to reach beyond
the senior bureaucrats to ‘buy’ policy advice, and
corporatization of government functions, as in New
Zealand, e-governance, as in Britain, Malaysia, china,
and several Indian states, and a whole host of
management tools and techniques like Total Quality
Management (TQM), operations research, Human
Resource Development (HRD), market research, etc.[7].
In the 1990s, if not late 1980s, developing countries
began to adopt selected elements of NPM [8-10].
However, research on the implementation and
effectiveness of NPM in developing countries is still
going on.
By the early 1980s, when the world is swept by the
necessity of modernizing public secto rs, Bang ladesh with
no exception, had observed the public administration
system in its highest level of inefficiency that not only
worried national planners but also international donor
agencies , which were financing different projects under
structural adjustment plans. Therefore, NPM-style
reforms strategies have been suggested by various study
reports. Careful analysis of the recommendations
provided by various study reveals the presence of NPM
systems in Bangladesh (Table 1). Privatization of Public
enterprises, contracting out of pu blic services, users’ fees,
reduction of manpower in the public sector, meritocracy
in the public service, professionalism, performance
standards, citizen’s charter, market-based salary structure,
devolution of authority to local elected bodies,
e-governance, and combating corruption are some of the
recommendations that reflects the spirit of NPM [11].
The present government is now giving stress on
information technology which is one of the prerequisites
of NPM. All these efforts have the reflections of the
OECD listed trends of NPM.
Being influenced by the internal and external pressure,
although several attempts have been made to introduce
reforms in public management in Bangladesh, but most
of the reform initiatives were either failed to produce
significant results or manipulated by the politically
motivated governments in their favor and successive
governments appeared to be comfortable with the
traditional approach. As a result, huge amounts of
resources were wasted in examining the system and
developing recommendations, which were never
implemented sincerely
3. Perspectives in the Failure of Npm
Reform in Bangladesh
A review of following literature [1,12,14-22] suggests
some factors which are responsible for non-implementa-
tion of major reform initiatives in Bangladesh. Summa-
rizing their findings this paper categorizes the major rea-
sons of failure of implementing NPM in Bangladesh in
the following ways:
1. Incapacity of the state in terms of ;
Political incapacity which is manifested by crimi-
nalization of politics, clientelism that exacerbated
nepotism, favoritism & factionalism.
Institutional incapacity that results in breakdown
of law, spread of massive corruption in accumulation &
distribution of resources.
Technical incapacity which increases the absence
of appropriate manpower, lack of performance control
and accountability.
Administrative incapacity exhibited in the state’s
failure to provide basic public goods and services,
economic infrastructure, accountable judiciary etc.
2. Bureaucratic failure to implement innovative and
changed p o licie s bec ause of
Resistance from senior bureaucrats
Reform attempts are short-lived
Non-inclusion of stakeholders in decision making
3. Failure of donor agencies to pursue reform either
because before the prescribed country realize the need
for reform, reform agendas are imposed on her or reform
policies are over-ambitious, ill-conceived & not-adopted
to local context and political reality.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. IB
New Public Management in Bangladesh: Policy and Reality
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. IB
Table 1. Some important administrative reforms in bangladesh which have the overtones of NPM.
Committees/ Commissions/Study Groups Focus Recommendations
Martial Committee on Examining
Organizational setup of Ministries, Divisions,
Directorates an d other Organizations, 1982 [12]
Reorganization and
Rationalization of manpower
in public organizations
Reduction of the size of the government; red uction of layers
for decision making; delegation of administrative and
financial powers down the hierarchy
UNDP-sponsored Public Administration Sector
Study,1993 [13] Civil service
Performance management system; rationalizatio n of civil
service structure; elimination of redundant government
functions; merit-based selection and pr omotion;
strengthening Pu blic Service Commission
World Bank Study: Bangladesh Government
That Works Reforming the Public Sector,1996
Civil service, public
enterprise, NGOs
Redefining frontiers of the public sector; enhancing level
and nature of accountability and responsiveness of public
organizations to different stakeholders; streamlining
regulations, laws and processes; maintaining an efficient,
committed and professional public service
Public Administration Reform Commission,
2000 [11]
Administrative structure for
improving the quality and
standard of service,
transparency and efficiency
Determination of missions of public offices; improving the
delivery of services; reforming the civil service; formation
of the professional policy ma king group (senior
management pool); reorganizing institutions and
rationalizing manpower; restructuring field administration
and decentralization; establishment of an independent
commission against corruption; establishment of criminal
justice commission; establishment of the Office of
Ombudsman; reducing wastage and promoting value for
money; strengthening parliamentary oversight; facilitating
private investment
5. Conclusions
From the above discussion it is evident that some
administrative reforms in Bangladesh, specially p rovided
by World Bank and Public Administration Reform
Commission, have the reflection of NPM. But Bangladesh
is still far away from those coun tries which implemented
NPM successfully like, UK, New Zealand, USA, etc. The
reason behind this may be that different countries started
from different contexts in terms of the level of economic
development, the existence of the rule of law, the level of
administrative infrastructure and sate capacity and
efficiency to implement reforms. Therefore, it is possible
that NPM might potentially provide some benefits to
Bangladesh. Yet the peculiarities of the Bangladesh
context, such as the high degree of politicization of the
bureaucracy, the bureaucratic domination of the system,
lack of political commitment toward implementing
reform policies, incapacity of the state in terms of
institutional, technical, administrative and political
factors, deteriorating law and order situation, misuse of
power for personal and political gain by members of the
ruling party may not bode well for NPM measures.
Moreover, clientelist nature of politics and factionalism
in public sector also threaten implementation of any
reform initiatives, if the interests of particular groups are
not protected by that reform. ‘Sound policies will not
sound well if it is not implemented well’ is the basic
reason of failure to implement NPM-style reform in
Bangladesh. Moreover, donor imposed reform initiatives
have very few records of success as they are reluctantly
accepted by the government. Ray, Turner and Hulme
also argued that donor-driven reform programs are
counter-productive and may even contribute to reduced
performance and political instability [23,24]. Therefore,
to establish efficient public management or to follow
NPM model, Bangladesh n eeds to have so lid institu tional
frameworks, sound rule of law, proper control structures,
appropriate checks and balances, effective civil service
system, appropriate accountability and transparency; and
for these political leaders, bureaucrats and
donor-agencies have to work in line; otherwise NPM
would be present in policies only.
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