The new public management of Further Education 1979-2004

Bobby Mackie, Norman.H Williamson

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1 Citation (Scopus)


This article reviews developments in the management of further education in Scotland over a 25-year period as a case study of the implementation of New Public Management. Scottish further education policy in the period from 1979 represents a clear example of change being externally imposed on the further education system. Barrett and Fudge (1981) argue that the policy-action relationship needs to be regarded as a process of interaction and negotiation, taking place over time, between those seeking to put policy into effect and those upon whom action depends. The system of further education in Scotland presents an opportunity to examine the interface between policy and its implementation. Public policy initiatives invariably imply change through the manipulation of a large-scale system making use of variables such as changes in legislative provision, changes in funding patterns and changes in organisation structures. This study of policy implementation in Scottish further education demonstrates all three-system variables. The Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 1992 changed the legislative provisions governing further education. Funding moved from being a local authority responsibility to direct funding initially from the Scottish Office and, since 1999, from the Scottish Further Education Funding Council. Organisation structures also changed from further education being a sub-division of the education service to that of incorporated colleges as independent providers of further education services and organisations in their own right.
This research considers the relationship between the key elements of the New Public Management and the management of Scottish further education. The conclusions are based on a survey and interviews of Further Education Senior Managers and other Stakeholders in the further education system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-115
Number of pages24
JournalScottish Affairs
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Public Management Further Education


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