Rhetorics of Reform : The Case of New Public Management as a Paradigm Shift
Many authors have claimed that New Public Management (NPM) has entailed a paradigm shift away from traditional public administration. This claim is literally based on the formulations of Thomas Kuhn: NPM is said to change the assumptions of the traditional paradigm and thereby causing a scientific revolution. This article reviews this claim, arguing that some criteria of a Kuhnsian revolution are not entirely met. For instance, the contradictions in NPM show that the pre-paradigmatic quarrel is not finished, the frameworks may also be commensurable and NPM’s problem-solving capacity is questionable. We argue that NPM is not a paradigm and that both supporters and opponents of the paradigm shift use the term as a rhetorical tactic to create a caricatural polemic.
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