Steering the British State - Emerging Patterns of Governance, the Strategic Capacity of the Centre and the Public Service Agreement Framework

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Politics

Abstract

Drawing upon literature within the field of governance, the research considers the extent to which the steering capacity of the central government has been eviscerated and/or transformed, and whether the concept of 'hollowing-out' can therefore be applied to the British state. The research focuses on the Public Service Agreement (PSA) framework, a target-based performance regime introduced in 1998, analysing the extent that the regime represents a determined effort by the government to 'fill in' the perceived void identified within the governance literature. Several key strands of the PSA framework shall be explored in greater detail. In particular, the research will focus on the transformation of political leadership within central government, and central government vis-à-vis the raft of delivery units on the ground. The research will also explore the relationship between central and local government, and the extent to which the PSA framework is top-down in its conception. The timing of this research is pertinent, as far-reaching overhaul of the PSA regime has recently been undertaken. Accordingly, the research will also seek to understand the impact of these changes upon the regime, and the extent to which they have strengthened the government’s strategic and operation capacity in the policy process.

Publications


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Matthews F (2008) Ensuring the Capacity to Deliver New Labour and the Public Service Agreement Framework, 19972007 in International Journal of Leadership in Public Services