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Knights and knaves return: public service motivation and the delivery of public services

By Julian Le Grand


There are several models for delivering public services such as health care or education, most of which can be summarised under the headings of trust, mistrust, voice, and choice. Each contains assumptions concerning the motivation of the professionals and others who provide the service concerned: that is, the extent to which they are “knaves,” motivated primarily by self-interest, or “knights,” motivated by altruism and the desire to provide a public service. This article highlights the assumptions concerning motivation implicit in each of the delivery models, illustrating the points made by reference to the author's experience as a senior policy adviser to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and to some evidence on the performance of public services under the different models

Topics: RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Publisher: Elsevier for the International Public Management Network
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1080/10967490903547290
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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