New Public Management-based Reform in Bangladesh: A Review of Public Administration Reform Commission

AuthorMd. Shariar Islam
Date01 March 2018
Published date01 March 2018
Subject MatterArticles
Indian Journal of Public
64(1) 15–35
© 2018 IIPA
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/0019556117735458
1 Assistant Professor of Public Administration, University of Dhaka, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Corresponding author:
Md. Shariar Islam, Assistant Professor of Public Administration, University of Dhaka, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
New Public
Reform in Bangladesh:
A Review of Public
Reform Commission
Md. Shariar Islam1
This article highlights that Bangladesh has not been able to achieve desired
success in implementing Public Administration Reform Commission’s (PARC)
new public management (NPM)-driven reform recommendations as there are
major challenges such as lack of political commitment, bureaucratic unwillingness
to bring about change, lack of advocacy for NPM reform among the people and
inefficient public service management. To face the challenges of NPM reform
implementation, it is needed to ensure political commitment, bureaucratic support,
awareness among the people through government, non-government and social
Bangladesh, administrative reform, new public management, South Asia
In recent years, especially after the 1980s, citizens have become more demanding
as public administration strives to become more socially responsive. Such a
demand has emerged due to the prevalence of inefciency of traditional system of
public administration and management. Similarly, Bangladesh public administra-
tion has reached an unprecedented level of inefciency (Khan, 2013b; Sarker,
2004) with the need for the expansion of operations for the private sector and
16 Indian Journal of Public Administration 64(1)
enhancing the level of accountability and responsibility, both administrative
reform (AR) and new public management (NPM) approach have been inter-
twined in many efforts to bring about changes within the administration.
Samaratunge, Alam and Teicher (2008) view NPM as the key agent of AR in
South and Southeast Asian countries. It implies that this part of the world has been
inuenced by the NPM characteristics while reforming the administration. Such
inuence has been observed due to the rise of globalisation and the introduc-
tion of global convergence in policy matters (Cheung, 2002). Hence, analysing
the issues of NPM reform from the perspective of a developing country like
Bangladesh also provides the opportunity to identify some neglected dimensions
of analysis. Bangladesh, one of the emerging nations, was ruled by the Europeans
like most South Asian countries. Thus, historically there is similarity among the
countries of South Asian region in terms of culture, social, political and economic
architecture. Hence, analysis of NPM-based reforms in Bangladesh would present
several signicant dimensions through which one can apprehend the scenario of
other developing countries in this region.
The article attempts to show the degree to which Bangladesh has been success-
ful in implementing NPM-based reforms. In analysing such an important issue
of Bangladesh public administration, this article focuses on the largest reform
effort in the country’s history. In order to present and analyse the state of NPM-
based reform in Bangladesh, Public Administration Reform Commission (PARC)
is considered so that an intensive discussion about the result of this major reform
effort can be realised. Through the analysis, it is intended to delineate the factors
and actors influencing PARC-proposed recommendations and implementation of
those by different regimes. It is important to note that PARC had a wide-array
focus to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in the public sector. However, this
article only sheds light on those recommendations made typically based on NPM
principles. In this regard, key conceptual literature and secondary materials on
NPM and AR are reviewed. Before presenting the analysis, this article provides
a discussion to highlight the relationship between NPM and AR researched
previously in different contexts. A detailed analysis of the PARC follows the con-
ceptual section to highlight its organisation, background and critical factors that
influenced the operation. A later section contains an analysis of major challenges
faced by PARC’s NPM-driven proposals. In that section, the result of PARC is
realised through the lenses of those proposals and their implementation. The anal-
ysis also includes discussion about the role of social, political and administrative
culture in accepting and implementing PARC’s recommendations. This article
also highlights the implications of Bangladesh case, that is, PARC in understand-
ing the challenges and opportunities in implementing NPM-based reforms in
other South Asian countries. Such a discussion is important to realise possible
generalisations of PARC’s outcome in regional context.
Administrative Reforms and NPM: Conceptual Discourse
Administrative Reforms (AR) are seen as ‘those efforts which call for or lead to
major changes in the bureaucratic system of a country intended to transform the

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