Presentation Details

The Fourth International Conference on Knowledge, Culture and Change in Organisations

Commodification or Transformation?: Measuring performance in the public sector

Dr Andy Adcroft, Robert Willis.

Over the past 2 decades, managerial reforms in the public sector have focused on new performance measures aimed at improving accountability, value for money and the use of scarce resources. Through the use of case studies on higher education, the NHS and the police service, this paper argues that this imposition of "private" sector management practices and philosophies is unlikely to deliver the intended transformation. Instead, the paper argues, it represents further commodification which will resolve "worth into exchange value" and covert "the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the man of science into paid wage labourers" (Marx and Engels, 1848). The most likely outcome of these changes is negative cultural changes on public sector organisations through a process of de-professionalisation.


Dr Andy Adcroft  (United Kingdom)
Programme Director
School of Management
University of Surrey

Robert Willis  (United Kingdom)

  • Public sector reform
  • Management by Objectives
  • Commodification
  • De-professionalisation
  • Cultural Change

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)