By Christopher Pollitt.
Open University Press
Distinguishing between private and public forms of work is tricky, apart from listing the more obvious differences such as the greater ambiguity about goals in the public sector. Pollitt’s Cook’s Tour of the grey areas is written with a dynamic blend of evidence and personal opinion. He strays from the theme only to add broader perspectives. The countless agendas public managers must incorporate into their work are clearly described, using interesting examples.
Tesco’s regional stocking policy shows that the private sector has to make the same adaptations to cultural shifts and consumer preferences that the public sector does. Even political know-how, a traditional characteristic of public sector management, is relevant to private sector managers, who may need to negotiate public and private partnerships with one or more tiers of government.
Similarly, every public manager should now possess programme management skills. The chapters on evaluation and partnerships are excellent. The only missing chapter is the one that brings all the material together into the hybrid management style by which today’s managers are being judged.
Anthony Douglas is director of social care and health, Suffolk Council.