At Our Service? The public service ethos in community safety partnerships




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


The public service ethos (PSE) has spent thirty years - since the advent of New Public Management - in flux. In the late 1990s, partnership working appeared to offer an alternative to NPM, as part of a perceived shift to network governance. What impact has partnership and network governance had on the PSE? This study looked at two case studies of Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) operating under different local governance conditions. It interviewed public servants within these CSPs on their experiences of partnership working, and perceptions around public service itself. What emerged is a picture of partial network governance, with each case study taking a different approach and yielding different structures and outcomes. While the public servants were professional and committed, they were loyal to their field of work and individual clients. In the recent decades, public interest and consideration of wider societal impact has been removed from everyday working; what remains is a vacuum. The neo-liberal view – that satisfying individual client need creates societal benefit when aggregated – has taken root. PSE is now a partial concept: it remains altruistic but without the core of wider, deeper thinking required. While network governance could ameliorate this trend, the partial and limited implementation of the concept by government means that it hinders PSE as much as it fosters it.



public service ethos, public interest, autonomy, community safety, network governance



Research Institute