Public Service Quality Improvement

John Øvretveit*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In many respects quality originated as a collection of poorly theorized methods which were developed through practice in the workplace. The "quality movement" was built by adherents who tried to provide a theoretical basis and ideology from mostly atheoretical practical tools. In transferring these methods to the public sector, a similar industry has evolved, developing an ideology and packages of tools for the less competitive and culturally different environment of this sector. The purpose of this article is to give a balanced and critical overview of the different ideas and methods of quality assurance and improvement as applied in the public sector. It describes approaches which have been used in multi-professional services, such as health care; in single quasi-professional services, such as education, police, fire, library, and social services; and other government services such as clerical services and industrial-type services which include a physical goods products such as refuse collection and road maintenance.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Public Management
EditorsEwan Ferlie, Laurence E. Lynn, Christopher Pollitt
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9780191577048
ISBN (Print)9780199226443
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Health care
  • Multi-professional services
  • Public sector
  • Public service quality
  • Quality improvement
  • Quasi-professional services

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