CITIZEN, CUSTOMER, PARTNER: ENGAGING THE PUBLIC IN PUBLIC MANAGEMENT

Published date01 March 2015
AuthorJosie Kelly
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/padm.12151
Date01 March 2015
264 REVIEWS
CITIZEN, CUSTOMER, PARTNER: ENGAGING THE PUBLIC IN PUBLIC
MANAGEMENT
John Clayton Thomas
M.E. Sharpe, 2012, 242 pp., £24.99 (hb), ISBN: 978–0765627209
How should government agencies understand and manage their associations with publics
and users of government services? This seemingly straightforward question continues
to defy easy answers, while the policy implications of the question continue to perplex
public administration and public management practitioners and scholars. What is widely
acknowledged is that we live in a time when government ofcials have to continuously
review and adapt their methods if they are to work successfully with knowledgeable
publics who have complex and contradictory expectations of government programmes
and those who administer them. This, then, is the author’s starting point; publics are an
increasingly complex set of entities, which exhibit actions and expectations discretely as
customers, partners and citizens of governments or any combination of these attributes.
The contemporary challenge for public ofcials is, therefore, to navigate these waters by
understanding, even managing, the multiple expectations publics now have of govern-
ment and to integrate them into the practices of public management.
With a deft touch and easy manner, John Clayton Thomas discusses the changing rela-
tionship between public agencies and users and provides his readers with a straightfor-
ward set of principles and guidelines appropriate for the public as customer, partner, or
citizen. This practical approach suggests that the book is clearly aimed at a practitioner
or a post graduate student market. Yet his insightful comments also provide considerable
food for thought for academics with subject interests in this area.
In his introductory chapters, the author explores the socio-political inuences that
have over the last few decades resulted in the reconguration of government agency
personnel to relate to publics across a range of activities; including gathering information
from potential and actual users, consulting on programme design or implementation
and the co-production of goods and services. In the subsequent chapters he turns his
attention to the challenges of perceiving the Public as Customer (chapters 3, 4); the Public
as Partner (chapters 5, 6) and the Public as Citizen (chapters 7, 8, 9). His discussions on
each theme are contextualized by the introduction and explanation of guiding principles
and case studies. This allows the reader to reect on how government ofcials may
Public Administration Vol.93, No. 1, 2015 (262–270)
© 2015 John Wiley& Sons Ltd.

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