J. Timo Weishaupt
A silent revolution? New management ideas and the reinvention of European public employment services

Socio-Economic Review, 2010: 8, issue 3, pp. 461-486
ISSN: 1475-1461

Labour-market policy regimes are in flux, not only because of the introduction of activation policies but also because of changes in the governance of public employment services (PESs). This paper argues that PESs have been fundamentally transformed due to the ‘discovery’ of New Public Management ideas. In the European context, these ideas first emerged in the UK and Sweden, were subsequently diffused through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the European Union and then internalized by critical epistemic communities, including the network of the heads of PESs and the World Association of PESs. Through the acceptance, diffusion and internalization of these new management ideas, common governance practices, including performance, quality and case management, have been widely adopted in Europe. Policymakers have failed, however, to agree on a ‘best-practice’ model with respect to the local organization of labour-market policy delivery. Consequently, no hegemonic idea was established, and significant national differences continue to persist.