Quality Improvement in European Public Services: Concepts, Cases and Commentary / Edition 1

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Since the late 1980s the quality of public services has become a major focus of attention for politicians, managers and citizens, but most of the material available on how to achieve quality is either set in private sector contexts or confined to a single country. This book is a pioneer in addressing the need for a focus on issues common to the public services which underpin Western European societies.

Quality improvement is portrayed in this book as part of a broader managerial and political strategy, not a narrow technical issue. Success in improving quality in the public sphere requires a close relationship between quality improvement strategies and citizen involvement. This text, firstly, provides an overview of the concepts and methodologies involved in the management of quality improvements and, secondly, offers a set of case studies to illustrate how quality improvements have been achieved, drawing lessons from the experience of a spectrum of services in a range of countries.

Part One establishes a theoretical framework which helps the reader make sense of the detail contained in the case studies. It places quality improvement in the special political and organizational context of the public sector. Various concepts of quality are reviewed, showing how the choice of a particular concept has significant political and organizational consequences. Part One also discusses how quality may be measured and the importance of measurement in developing plans for improvement.

Part Two provides seven case studies built around a set of common questions derived from the analysis of Part One. These case studies illuminate many of the detailed operational issues in quality improvement by drawing on the experience of a range of different types of public services from a number of different European backgrounds.

Part Three 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 on the nature of service quality and the range of approaches to its improvement.

This book forms a stimulating introduction to, and exploration of, quality improvement in public services for managers, administrators and professionals in public services, as well as for academics, consultants, and students of public management, organization and administration.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803974654
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 8/11/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 204
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Table of Contents

Defining Quality - Christopher Pollitt and Geert Bouckaert
Measuring Quality - Geert Bouckaert
Quality Measurement and Quality Assurance in European Higher Education - Frans van Vught and Don F Westerheijden
Quality in the French Public Service - Sylvie Trosa
Quality Improvement in German Local Government - Helmut Klages et al
Quality Improvement in Local Service Contracts - Lucy Gaster
Environmental Services in Harlow
Quality in Swedish Higher Education - Hellen Westlund
A Pilot Study
Costing Non-Conformance at an NHS Hospital - Richard Joss
A Pilot Study
Quality Improvement in the Dutch Department of Defence - Nico Mol
Enhancing Quality in the Police Service - Stephen Hanney
Leicestershire Constabulary
Improvement Strategies - Christopher Pollitt
Concluding Reflections - Geert Bouckaert
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