Creating Public Value Idea

The different strands in the public value literature clearly can be linked. Specifically, Moore’s managerially focused idea of creating public value involves producing what the public values or is good for the public, the merits of which can be assessed against a set of more specific public values. These can include Bozeman’s and others’ societal or policy-focused public value criteria, Meynhardts’ psycho logically focused criteria, Benington’s idea of enhancing the public sphere, and other important values in the public administration field and literature. All may or should be considered when assessing value creation in specific instances.

Uses of the Creating Public Value Idea in Practice and Research The idea of creating public value has been used as a paradigm, rhet oric, narrative, and kind of performance. Stoker has proposed “public value management” as a new paradigm better suited to networked governance than tra ditional public administration or the New Public Management. He is thus moving beyond Moore’s primary focus on public managers at the top of a public bureaucracy delivering services or obligations to a focus on networked inter-organizational and cross-sector relations and governance.

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Stoker makes the case that traditional public administration and New Public Management are not up to the job of managing in a networked public environment, but he only vaguely considers how leaders and managers in specific instances would achieve efficiency, accountability, and equity, along with broader democratic values. Nor does he explain how leaders and managers should cope with a democracy having problems with low voter turnout, divided government, compet ing organized interests, and competing conceptions of what public value might be in any situation.

Critics of public value argue that it has been used as a rhetorical strategy to protect and advance the interests of bureaucrats and their organizations . The criticism unquestionably has merit in particular cases. As noted above, Dahl and Soss also highlight the potential of public value rhetoric to undermine democratic processes. Smith, however, believes that a “focus on public value enables one to bring together debates about values, institutions, systems, processes and people. It also enables one to link insights from different analytical perspectives, including public policy, policy analysis, management, economics, and political science.” Similarly, Fisher (2014) offers a narrative that contrasts an oppositional approach to public decision mak ing (public-private, black-white; right-wrong; mine-yours) with an “opposable” or integrative approach wherein public managers can link seemingly unrelated, or contradictory, and sometimes para doxical constructs to achieve a higher level of public value across sectors.


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