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Professor Christopher Hood and Dr Ruth Dixon awarded book prize at PSA awards

Professor Christopher Hood and Dr Ruth Dixon picked up the W. J. M. Mackenzie Book Prize at last night’s (29 November) Political Studies Association Annual Awards in Westminster.

Now in its 15th year, the PSA Awards pay tribute to those that have made outstanding contributions to politics in the past year. Professor Hood and Dr Ruth Dixon’s book, A Government That Worked Better and Cost Less? Evaluating Three Decades of Reform and Change in UK Central Government, offers a unique evaluation of UK government modernisation programmes from 1980 to the present day.

Published by Oxford University Press, the book contains sophisticated and rigorous analysis of some of the claims that are routinely made about the supposed benefits of the organisational structures and techniques associated with the new public management in the UK. Dixon and Hood offer important, sceptical judgements about these claims.

The book was the unanimous choice of a jury of distinguished academics, which included Professor Thom Brooks (Durham University), Professor Michael Kenny (Queen Mary University of London) and Professor Donna Lee (Manchester Metropolitan University). The judges said: “A Government that Worked Better but Cost Less? carries considerable implications for policy-making, as well as the field of academic enquiry which it addresses”.

Christopher Hood has said that “Our book shows that that contrary to the rhetoric, successive reforms and reorganisations in the UK over the thirty years up to 2010 failed to drive down government running costs, while complaints and litigation increased sharply. That means the effort to produce ‘a government that works better and costs less’ remains unfinished business.”

Ruth Dixon commented that “Our findings highlight just how difficult it is to answer the apparently simple question: ‘how well is the government doing?’ because the reporting systems and definitions changed so frequently – and indeed continue to change. If governments want to learn what worked and what didn’t, the evidence should not be so difficult to obtain.”

You can find out more about the book by clicking here: http://www.politics.ox.ac.uk/publications/a-government-that-worked-better-and-cost-less-evaluating-three-decades-of-reform-and-change-in-uk-central-government.html

Dr Ruth Dixon is Associate MemberEmeritus Professor Christopher Hood is Emeritus Professor of Government, Fellow, All Souls College