Styles in Urban Management

By Khairul Rizal*

This morning I received a text from my old friend, asking me to provide one or two comments over an articles written by a journalist based on an interview with my friend. Here is the link to the article.

I should admit that it is difficult to make objective comments within heavily political sphere. However, let me give a try by dropping out some of my views over the article.

First, I will not try to link between the style of urban leadership with the election outcome. I put my doubts high on the views that have tried to establish that noisy link. There could be some influences still, but the outcome itself seems to be highly driven by identity politics rather than by programmatic campaign.

Second, the article attempts to contrast the styles of managements by drawing into two seemingly competing theories: new public management (NPM) versus public value management (PVM). The former tends to be target oriented while the latter seeks for compromise, stated in the article. However, I would argue that those two concepts of public management are complementary as both basically aim at better public services most valued by the public. The difference, however, NPM focuses on improving the practices (e.g. efficiency and responsiveness) of the government itself as valuable assets to society while PVM focuses on deciphering what are the most valued by society. Empowerment thus is viewed as one of the best mode in PVM to mobilise the society’s value.

Third, within the public sphere and democracy system accountability is a crucial element. Setting up a clear target and appointing who are kept responsible on those targets shall ensure the accountability. Empowerment, although socially more acceptable, has inherent downsides to hold accountability intact. For instance, citizens often get confused about who should be made responsible for under-performed empowerment programs. Is it the government, or is it the society itself should be blamed over the failures? Or maybe it is just nobody’s mistakes.

*Writer is a PhD candidate in economic geography at University College London, UK.

Picture from Global Indonesia Voices

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