Caught in an evaluatory trap: a dilemma for public services under NPFM

Olov Olson, Christopher Humphrey*, James Guthrie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a challenge to public sector managers, policy-makers and interested academics. Drawing on the findings of previous international comparative studies of new public financial management (NPFM) reforms, it concludes that public services and their providers are caught in an ‘evaluatory trap’. The continual promotion of NPFM reforms, despite their evident repeated failure to meet specified achievements, is argued to be generating a cycle of ever-decreasing public services at ever-increasing costs per service unit. As the legitimacy of public services increasingly rests on the need to be seen as efficient and effective and as definitions of efficiency frequently demand adoption of the latest set of NPFM reforms, it follows that the future for public services is in question.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-522
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Accounting Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2001


Dive into the research topics of 'Caught in an evaluatory trap: a dilemma for public services under NPFM'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this