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Rethinking policy and politicsReflections on contemporary debates in policy studies$
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Sarah Ayres

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781447319467

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447319467.001.0001

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Political anthropology and civil service reform: prospects and limits

Political anthropology and civil service reform: prospects and limits

(p.29) Chapter Two Political anthropology and civil service reform: prospects and limits
Rethinking policy and politics

R.A.W Rhodes

Policy Press

What lessons about public sector reform can be learnt from using political anthropology to study governance reform? What are the strengths and weaknesses of such an approach? I contrast the everyday working experience reported in Rhodes (2011) with the core themes of civil service reform; namely evidencebased policy making, managerialism, and choice. I use five axioms for clarity of exposition: coping and the appearance of rule, not strategic planning; institutional memory, not internal structures; storytelling, not evidencebased policy; contending traditions and stories, not just managerialism; the politics of implementation, not top-down innovation and control.

Keywords:   observation, political anthropology, public sector reform

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