Local government modernisation: UK and comparative analysis from an organizational perspective

Jean Hartley, Michael J.R. Butler, John Benington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article analyses three strands of local government modernization. The first takes an overview of the development of 'modernization' and 'improvement' of local government in the UK under the Labour government since 1997 and the overall programme of reform. We discuss both the shifts and the continuities with the previous decade and a half of the 'new public management' of Conservative administrations. We examine the implicit assumptions about how to achieve organizational and cultural change, arguing that much modernization is premised on a mechanistic metaphor of organizational change. The second section of the article examines other metaphors and theories of organizational change, arguing for the need to consider institutional and organizational perspectives in analysing local government modernization. The third section of the article then applies some organizational concepts to the comparative analysis of local government modernization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-404
Number of pages18
JournalPublic Management Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • comparative analysis
  • institutional theory
  • local government
  • modernization
  • organizational
  • change


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