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Cooper Hernandez
Cooper Hernandez

How Osborne and Gaebler's Reinventing Government Changed the Public Sector

Osborne and Gaebler Reinventing Government PDF Download

Are you interested in learning how to transform the public sector into a more entrepreneurial, innovative, and responsive organization? Do you want to know how to apply the principles of reinventing government to your own context and challenges? If so, you might want to download a PDF copy of Reinventing Government: How the Entrepreneurial Spirit Is Transforming the Public Sector by David Osborne and Ted Gaebler.

osborne and gaebler reinventing government pdf download

This book, published in 1992, is considered a classic in the field of public administration and management. It offers a comprehensive framework for rethinking and redesigning the way government works in the 21st century. It draws on hundreds of examples from local, state, federal, and international levels to illustrate how public managers can adopt a more entrepreneurial spirit and mindset.

In this article, we will provide an overview of the main ideas and arguments of Osborne and Gaebler's book. We will also discuss some of the benefits and challenges of implementing their vision of reinventing government. Finally, we will provide some links where you can download a PDF version of their book for free or for a small fee.

The Ten Principles of Reinventing Government

Osborne and Gaebler identify ten principles that define the reinvention movement in the public sector. These principles are not mutually exclusive, but rather complement and reinforce each other. They are:

  • Steer more than row

  • Empower communities rather than simply deliver services

  • Encourage competition rather than monopoly

  • Be driven by mission, not rules

  • Fund outcomes, not inputs

  • Meet the needs of the customer, not the bureaucracy

  • Concentrate on earning, not spending

  • Invest in prevention rather than cure

  • Decentralize authority

  • Solve problems by leveraging the marketplace, rather than simply creating public programs

Let's take a closer look at each of these principles and how they can be applied in practice.

Steer more than row

This principle suggests that government should focus more on setting the direction and goals of public policy, rather than on delivering services directly. Government should act as a catalyst, facilitator, and coordinator, rather than as a provider or operator. Government should also encourage and enable other actors, such as private businesses, nonprofits, citizens, and communities, to take part in the delivery of public goods and services.

Some examples of steering more than rowing in public sector reform are:

  • Contracting out or outsourcing non-core functions to external providers who can offer better quality, lower cost, or more innovation.

  • Creating public-private partnerships or joint ventures to leverage the resources and expertise of both sectors.

  • Establishing performance-based contracts or agreements that specify the expected results and outcomes of service delivery, rather than the inputs or processes.

  • Using vouchers or subsidies to give customers more choice and control over the services they receive.

Empower communities rather than simply deliver services

This principle suggests that government should empower communities to take more responsibility and ownership of their own problems and solutions, rather than simply delivering services to them. Government should act as a partner, supporter, and enabler, rather than as a paternalistic or authoritarian entity. Government should also foster civic engagement and participation, as well as social capital and trust, among citizens and communities.

Some examples of empowering communities in public sector reform are:

  • Devolving decision-making authority and resources to local governments or community organizations that are closer to the people and their needs.

  • Creating participatory budgeting or planning processes that allow citizens to have a direct say in how public funds are allocated or spent.

  • Establishing community policing or neighborhood watch programs that involve citizens in crime prevention and safety.

  • Supporting community development initiatives or social enterprises that address local issues such as poverty, unemployment, education, or health.

Encourage competition rather than monopoly

This principle suggests that government should encourage competition among service providers, rather than granting monopoly rights or privileges to a single entity. Government should act as a regulator, referee, and protector, rather than as a monopolist or competitor. Government should also promote market mechanisms and incentives, such as price signals, cost-benefit analysis, and user fees, to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Some examples of encouraging competition in public sector reform are:

  • Breaking up or unbundling large or complex public agencies or utilities into smaller or more specialized units that can compete with each other or with external providers.

  • Introducing competitive bidding or tendering processes that allow multiple providers to bid for public contracts or grants based on quality, cost, or innovation criteria.

  • Creating internal markets or quasi-markets within the public sector that simulate market forces and behaviors among public units or employees.

  • Implementing performance measurement or benchmarking systems that compare and rank the performance of different providers based on objective indicators or standards.

Be driven by mission, not rules

This principle suggests that government should be driven by a clear and compelling mission or vision of what it wants to achieve, rather than by rigid and detailed rules or procedures. Government should act as a leader, motivator, and innovator, rather than as a controller or micromanager. Government should also foster a culture of experimentation and learning, as well as accountability and responsibility, among public managers and employees.

Some examples of being driven by mission in public sector reform are:

  • Crafting strategic plans or statements that articulate the goals, values, and priorities of public organizations or programs.

  • Simplifying or streamlining rules or regulations that constrain creativity, flexibility, or responsiveness in service delivery.



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