Christopher Pollitt – an excellent scholar and dear colleague

AuthorTom Christensen
Published date01 September 2018
Date01 September 2018
Christopher Pollitt an excellent scholar and dear
Christopher Pollitt was one of the most productive researchers ever in the field of public administration and manage-
ment. He wrote, co-authored and edited nearly 30 books and countless articles and reports. In Public Administration,
a journal he edited between 1982 and 1989, he published 15 articles. Christophers books show the enormous width
and depth of his knowledge. First, he produced seminal textbooks like The Essential Manager (2003) or Advanced
Introduction to Public Management (2016) that display his ability to synthesize, make central concepts understandable
to students/practitioners and illustrate their applications. In his most cited work, Public Management Reforms, with
Geert Bouckaert, he combines two of his main research interests, studying public sector reforms in a comparative
context. This book is very useful both for its unambiguous analytic framework and its very impressive overview of
reforms in so many countries. It is not surprising that the book has gone through severaleditions and updates.
Christophers many research interests were reflected in his key book publications. He was interested in public
services, as reflected in his early Management and the Public Services: Cuts or Cultural Change in the 1990s (published
in 1993) and New Perspectives on Public Services: Place and Technology, published in 2001. He was interested in qual-
ity assessment and this led, for example, to the publication, in 1995, of Quality Improvements in European Public
Services. Christopher led the way on work on performance management and audit institutions. This led to the seminal
1999 book Performance or Compliance? Performance Audit and Public Management in Five Countries. He was also
interested in the study of agencification and quangos, as evident in his two works Unbundled Government: A Critical
Analysis of Global Trends to Agencies, Quangos and Contractualisation (from 2003) and Agencies: How Governments Do
Things through Semi-Autonomous Organizations (2004).
Christopherwas also preoccupied with questionsabout the role of place and technology.This interest in the impor-
tance of context led to his 2013 Context in Public Policy and Management: The Missing Link. His interest in time led to
the publication, in 2008, of Time,Policy, Management: Governingwith the Past. This work focused on institutional change
over 3040 years by comparing Brighton and Leuven. His empirical coverage was also considerable: his interests ran-
ged from highereducation, the police andhospitals/NHS, to less chartedterritories, such as prisonsand meteorology.
Looking at Christophers articles over the past decade, one can distinguish three broad lines of interest. One is
an emphasis on taking stock and reviewing the comparative experiences in public sector reform. These publications,
most of them with Sorin Dan, include 30 Years of Public Management Reform: Has there been a Pattern?, for the
World Bank from 2011; The Impact of NPM in Europe: A Meta-Analysis(2011); Search for Impact in Performance-
Oriented Management Reform: A Review of the European Literature(2014); The Evolving Narrative of Public Man-
agement Reform: 40 years of Reform White Papers in the UK, from 2013; and NPM Can Work: An Optimistic
Review of the Impact of NPM Reforms in Central and Eastern Europe(2015). Christopher also took aim at new
reform fashions and institutions; typical examples include Bureaucracies Remember, Post-Bureaucratic Organiza-
tions Forget?(from 2009) and Talking about Government: The Role of Magic Concepts(from 2011).
Christopher was always interested in and concerned with developing public administration as a field of study,
and this led to some highly influential papers. Some of these critical contributions are Envision Public Administration
DOI: 10.1111/padm.12526
Public Administration. 2018;96:433434. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd 433

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