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CenSE leads successful workshop for senior service managers on ‘comparative lessons for public management reform’ in Osaka, Japan
November 28, 2017
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CenSE Director, Professor Stephen P. Osborne led a highly successful workshop on exploring comparative UK–Japanese lessons for public management over 8–10 November.

The workshop was funded by the Japan Foundation in collaboration with CenSE at the University of Edinburgh Business School, CIPFA (Japan), and the Graduate School of Kwansei Gakuin University in Kobe.

It was attended by over 75 senior managers from across the UK: Graeme Currie from Warwick; Siv Vangen from the Open University; Adina Dudau from Glasgow; Russ Glennon from Nottingham Trent; Tobias Jung from St Andrews; and Stephen Osborne from Edinburgh. They were joined in the team by Sarah Drummond, Chief Executive of the acclaimed public service design consultancy Snook.

Delegates relaxing during the conference

The workshop opened with Professor Osborne exploring the challenge of public service reform in the 21st century and particularly the need to move from a New Public Management transactional approach to one based in Public Service-Dominant Logic, and the need to co-create value for citizens through the service delivery process. He explored what is meant by ‘value’ in the context of public services and offered a framework for public service reform situating value within this framework. Subsequent presentations explored collaborative governance, public service design innovation, leadership, performance management, and the potential of philanthropy to support public service reform.

The Japanese team was led by Professor Toshihiko Ishihara of Kwansei Gakuin University and included papers on the context of public management reform in Japan, accounting and accountability, innovation processes, Japanese models of leadership, integrated frameworks for performance management and public-private partnerships in Japan.

The workshop generated immense discussion among the collected academic and practice participants. Key areas of learning included:

  • What do we mean by ‘value’ in the context of public service reform and how can we capture it?
  • Is leadership a facilitator or an obstacle to reform and how do different models perform?
  • Is innovation always the best option for public service reform, and how do you deal with the risks and costs involved? Maybe ‘continuous improvement’ is a better option sometimes.
  • How can performance management support public service reform processes?
  • Is collaboration always the best option for public service delivery or do the costs sometimes outweigh the benefits?
  • Can philanthropy be a source of public service reform or is it too partial-limited in its scope and potential? Is ‘Philanthro-capitalism’ a new route for just old wine in new bottles?
  • How can service design technology support public service reform and does it offer new and more effective routes to the engagement for citizens and service users in public service reform?