New Public Management Reform and Corruption in Germany (2011/2013)

Autor/en: Grunow, Dieter

Erschienen: Mai 2013

Seiten: 43

The paper starts with the empirical observation of a steep increase (up to 700%) of cases of corruption in the public administration of Germany since the midst of the 1990ies. The guiding question is: why did this happen? – and: what does the coincidence with the introduction of New Public Management (NPM) in the early 1990ies mean in this context?
NPM is an international movement towards the modernization of the public sector – by transferring tools from the private business sphere to the public sector. The basic thesis of the paper is that the advent of NPM is the most important single factor to explain the increasing
cases of corruption (in Germany). The first part describes the development of corruptive behaviour since 1995 – and some
conclusions which can be drawn from the official statistics.
The second part describes in detail the implementation of NPM and thereby indicates those changes of the architecture and processes of public administration which alleviate corruptive behaviour (reduction of control; more staff members deciding about resource allocation etc.).
In addition, it is shown that cut back measures are often accompanying and intensifying this trend.
The third part describes how the introduction of specific modernization tools is embedded in the development of new (efficiency/profit-centred) orientations and belief systems. Step by step this process of economization covers the whole public administration and undermines
other (equally important) performance measures of the public sector. The consequences of these findings are specified in the sense of general (mis-)trust of the population in public institutions and in the legitimacy of the political system. It is shown that in Germany the corruption issue is not yet endangering these key features of the political system. At the end of this part the possible role of theoretical concepts for setting the research agenda – especially Rational Choice Theory and System Theory – is briefly discussed.
In the fourth part the German case is given up as the reference point of argumentation. As NPM is a movement which is widespread over the world, the question about the possible impact of this reform on countries in other phases of development and/or with an unstable and inefficient public administration (etc.) will be raised. Does NPM endanger or stabilize highly corrupt and/or weak political-administrative systems? These questions will be briefly addressed and proposed for further research and discussion.
Part five summarizes important arguments and open questions.

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