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Are Public Sector Managers a "bureaucratic Burden"? The case of English Public Hospitals

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Publication details

DateAccepted/In press - 1 Nov 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 9 Dec 2018
DatePublished (current) - Apr 2019
Issue number2
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)193-209
Early online date9/12/18
Original languageEnglish


Although managers are, globally, a central part of the new public management reform agenda, in recent years, policy makers and the media have raised concerns about their effectiveness and contribution. In some countries, notably the United Kingdom and the United States, this debate has been heavily influenced by Public Choice Theory (PCT), which depicts "bureaucrats" as rent seeking, self-serving individuals. In this study, focusing on the case of acute care hospital trusts in the English National Health Service, we formally test whether public sector managers represent a "bureaucratic burden." Using a longitudinal database spanning six years (2007-2012) and employing a dynamic panel data model, the findings reveal that, contrary to PCT assumptions, managers do not engage, in the main, in rent seeking behavior and, crucially, appear to have a positive impact on organizational performance. Implications for theory, policy, and practice are discussed.

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