New Public Management is a management philosophy used by governments since the 1980s to modernise the public sector. New Public management is a broad and very complex term used to describe the wave of public sector reforms throughout the world since the 1980s. The main hypothesis in the NPM-reform wave is that more market orientation in the public sector will lead to greater cost-efficiency for governments, without having negative side effects on other objectives and considerations.
Boston also identifies that reform tends to ignore these differences (see J. Boston, J. Martin, J. Pallot, and P. Walsh, Public Management: The New Zealand Model. Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1996).
NPM, compared to other public management theories, is more oriented towards outcomes and efficiency through better management of public budget. It is considered to be achieved by applying competition, as it is known in the private sector, to organizations in the public sector, emphasizing economic and leadership principles. New public management addresses beneficiaries of public services much like customers, and conversely citizens as shareholders.
Some authors say NPM has peaked and is now in decline. [see Hughes, Owen 2003 Public Management and Administration: An Introduction, 3rd ed. Bassingstoke. UK: Palgrave] Critics like Dunleavy et al. (2006) now proclaim that NPM is 'dead' and argue that the cutting edge of change has moved on to digital era governance focusing on reintegrating concerns into government control, holistic (or joined-up) government and digitalization (exploiting the Web and digital storage and communication within government).
Privatisation of government seems prominent still however in Australia, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and various Asian and Middle Eastern countries.