The first ‘The Blunders of our Governments’ is co-authored by Professor Anthony King and Professor Ivor Crewe. The second ‘Why Government fails so often – and how it can do better’ is by a Yale Emeritus Professor called Peter Schuck.
I wrote some notes on both below but the similarities between them are so striking that it is worth highlighting them:
- Both are excellent and well worth a read; as you would expect of such impressive authors, the content is rich and the analysis is thoughtful and provocative
- Of the two I much preferred Crewe and King’s partly because the examples are closer to home and partly because it is written in a very accessible style – it was genuinely a pleasure to read which is no mean feat
- But both have annoyingly negative premises which colour the analysis and unfairly reinforce negative stereotypes about the public sector
- This is all the more exasperating because both talk fleetingly about the successes of the public sector and how important it is to acknowledge these successes….before going on to spend 95% of their books slicing and dicing the failures
- The solutions proposed by both books are interesting – again more so in Crewe and King – but mostly complicated to implement (e.g. demands for cultural change)
- My summer wish is that the distinguished authors write sequels which capture and analyse the successes of the public sector; this would be a helpful antidote to the over-played narrative of the incompetent public sector to which their books have contributed