88 – Classic paper – ‘Managing the public service institution’. Peter F. Drucker.

Posted by Colin Weatherby                                                                         Long read 1900 words

Editors Note: This is the first of a new type of post – the long read. Rather than split long pieces or edit out important ideas they will be a run as a long read. It is only recommended for those scoring more than 7/10 in the local government reading test!

In this insightful paper published in 1973, Peter F Drucker looks at why public service organisations are less efficient than business enterprises. In it he reaffirms public services as being ‘load-bearing members of the main structure’ of modern society – a provider of services that are essential to society. Despite this importance, he says the performance of public service organisations is unimpressive. They have large budgets and require ‘ever-growing subsidies’ but are providing poorer service. Citizens are complaining about ‘bureaucracy and mismanagement’ in the institutions that are supposed to serve them.

Why was that the case in 1973 and is it still the case in local government today?