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Quality Improvement in European Public Services Concepts, Cases and Commentary by Christopher Pollitt

Quality Improvement in European Public Services Concepts, Cases and Commentary


Quality Improvement in European Public Services Concepts, Cases and Commentary by Christopher Pollitt

Since the late 1980s the quality of public services has become a major focus of attention for politicians, managers and citizens, but surprisingly there has been little material with a truly European focus. This book remedies this absence. Part One provides a theoretical framework which helps the reader make sense of the detail contained in the later case studies. It also locates quality improvement in the special political and organizational context of the public sector. It shows how choosing a particular concept of quality has significant political and organizational consequences and also discusses how quality may be measured. In Part Two seven case studies illuminate detailed operational issues in quality improvement by drawing on the experience of a range of different types of public services from a number of countries. The third part reviews the general lessons of the case studies in terms of fitting strategies for improvement to the purposes and circumstances of the organization in question, and reflects upon the nature of service quality and the range of approaches to its improvement.


`Pollitt and Bouckaert have taken a European perspective. The benefit of [this] approach is that it can help illuminate different political and value stances towards the context within which public services operate and hence the agenda for quality improvement. For the UK reader, this is particularly well illustrated in Pollitt and Bouckaert's chapters - especially the discussion of German local government and quality management and assessment in European higher education.... [the] two closing chapters, which provide a strong analysis of quality improvement approaches drawing on the case studies' - Local Government Studies

`This book should be read widely. It has obvious relevance for scholars of public administration, especially those interested in the reform processes that have been reshaping (often radically) the public sector in the most industrialized democracies. It also should be read by practitioners responsible for implementing programs for quality improvements within their governments. Perhaps more than anyone else, this book should be required reading for political and administrative leaders who believe that implementing quality programs is a quick and easy way to produce positive change in the public sector, and that quality is a simple goal to identify, create and then measure. The analyses herein should disabuse officials of overly simplistic notions and enable them to understand the complexity of the concept of quality.... The several introductory chapters are particularly valuable as antidotes to the excessively facile assumptions about the capacity to generate quality in public services. The editors point to the number of alternative definitions of quality, and the number of actors involved in the production and evaluation of quality services. Pollitt and Bouckaert point out very clearly that quality is a multi-polar concept and that services that satisfy the producers of services may not satisfy customers, although vice versa is perhaps more likely. The chapters describing different national experiences in promoting quality contain important lessons extracted from central to subnational governments, and from policy areas as varied as defense, police and education.... The case studies... provide greater understanding of quality within the public sector and its role in shaping contemporary management.... this book presents unusually cogent examinations of the way the ideas of quality in the public sector have been developed and implemented, provoking healthy skepticism about the concept and a desire to pursue further ideas about how to improve public sector management' - Journal of Public Policy

`Following a successful series of seminars at Brunel University, the many issues relating to Quality Improvement in Public Services were documented and discussed in this text.... An excellent book, well worth reading' - The International Journal of Health Care and Quality Assurance

About the Author

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Book Info

Publication date

13th June 1995


Christopher Pollitt

More books by Christopher Pollitt
Author 'Like for Like'


SAGE Publications Ltd


208 pages


Management & management techniques
Social issues & processes



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