This article explores the supposed shift from New Public Management (NPM) to a new era of “post-NPM” by looking at one critical case, New Zealand. It finds limited evidence of such a shift, suggesting that the wider literature needs to move to a more careful methodological treatment of empirical patterns. To contribute to such a move, this article applies a three-pronged approach to the study of changing doctrines in executive government. After setting out the broad contours of what NPM and post-NPM supposedly constitute, the article proceeds to a documentary analysis of State Services Commission doctrines; this is followed by an analysis of “Public Service Bargains” based on elite interviews and finally a case-study approach of the Crown Entities Act 2004. Far from a new era of administrative reform, the “messy” patterns that emerge suggest a continuation of traditional understandings and ad hoc and politically driven adjustments, leading to diversification
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