The nature of the political system undertaken by contemporary western states has undergone significant changes over the last 10-15 years. Previously, the emphasis centred on expanding the political sphere within the society. …
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Presently, the core objective centres on enhancing efficiency within the public service delivery and delivering more customer-attuned services to citizens. Interestingly, one of the radical changes witnessed within the public sphere has been transforming state-centred societies into less-state-centred. Proponents of public reform claim that governments are inherently ineffective, large, inefficient, expensive, highly bureaucratic, unresponsive to public wants and needs, self-serving, invasion into private rights of citizens, and failing within the provision of services rendered to the taxpaying public. The paper explores debates regarding the public sector and government reform during the last two decades. At the centre of this reform has been the drive towards the managerial reform propelled by the notion that the public sector flows from the wrong principles, which, in turn, necessitates reinvention and institutional renewal. These reforms generated all forms of promises including minimal intervention by the government and the decentralization of the government, enhanced efficiency and effectiveness within the public sector, and enhanced accountability and responsiveness of the public service to the citizens, greater choice between the public and private providers of public services, and “entrepreneurial” public sector more willingly and capable of working with business, and better economic performance (Raadschelders 2003, p.235). Discourse on Governance Governance manifests a number of features such as involvement of actors and institutions that surpass the formal government; the blurring of the boundaries and responsibilities for public policy; horizontal power dependence between the diverse institutions; and, the rising importance of autonomous networks, all of which yield enhancing government’s capability to attain results based on indirect instruments other than command or authority. Donor-directed discourse on governance spotlight state structures fashioned at guaranteeing accountability through the process of law, and state market relations. Academic-centred discourse on governance, on the other hand, remains distinctly focused on diverse ways through power and authority relations structured within diverse contexts. Literature on governance presents two lines of argument: the substantive character of governance (which relates to perceiving governance as representing the steering or control of public affairs) and the character of governance in practice (governance relating to performance, action, and results) (OECD 2001, P.149). Good governance essentially applies substantial requirements within the decision-making process, as well as in the formulation of public policy. The concept of “good governance” delineates a set of political requirements embraced within early 1990s by a majority of international development institutions as part of ‘new orthodoxy’ highlighting that ‘most societies typified by open markets, capable administrators and liberal-democratic societies promote growth and development, and also guarantee peace (Peters and Pierre 2012, p.562). Attaining good governance necessitates improvements that touch almost of all aspects relating to the public sector right from the institutions that shape the rules for political and economic interaction, to organizations that control administrative systems and deliver goods and services to citizens. Furthermore, obtaining good governance sometimes relates to effecting changes within the political organization, the representation of interests, and processes critical for public debate and policy decision-making (Kjaer 2004, p.5). This necessitates managing public affairs in an accountable, transparent, participatory, and efficient way, which necessitates
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