Effective leadership in managing NPM-based change in the public sector

Dana S. Kellis, Bing Ran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Purpose–The purpose of this paper is to find underlying causes of leadership failure in NPM-based reforms in the public service, and propose leadership principles to guard against such failure as leaders meet the demands of a changing, complex public service environment. Design/methodology/approach–An analysis of the managerial philosophy of Dr Berwick and its effects on CMS overall performance and employee morale. Findings–NPM-based reforms create an environment in which administrative wrongdoing can occur. The principles of leadership found in NPLT, which advocates values-based, relationship-based distributed leadership provide a template for effective leadership that can reverse and possibly prevent leadership failure due to NPM-based reforms. Research limitations/implications–The authors used a single case to demonstrate NPLT leadership principles can reverse leadership failure in a Federal Agency. No quantitative analysis is attempted in this paper. The authors choice of papers to use in the literature review was subjective. Originality/value–This paper identifies NPM-based reforms as a partial explanation for leadership failure in the public service, and also identifies the leadership principles needed to address and prevent such failures. It provides support for the use of NPLT as a template for effective public service leadership.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)614-626
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Organizational Change Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 13 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Decision Sciences
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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