Town Planning Review

Planning in an age of customers: British local authority practitioners, identity and reactions to public sector reform

Town Planning Review (2012), 83, (5), 553–574.

Abstract

The rise of the ‘customer’ concept within public services has been a hallmark of ‘New Public Management’ style reforms seen widely since the 1990s. As local authority employees, planners in Great Britain have been impacted by this but, drawing on extensive empirical evidence, I find that planners are redefining the customer concept as they embed it in practice in ways which are far removed from the traditional model of the ‘sovereign customer’. In doing so, planners draw on older conceptions of planning serving society which form a key part of their professional identity, resulting in a weakening of the customer concept.

Access Token
£25.00
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

ALFORD, J. (2002), ‘Defining the client in the public sector: a social-exchange perspective’, Public Administration Review, 62, 337-46. ‘Defining the client in the public sector: a social-exchange perspective’ Public Administration Review 62 337 46 Google Scholar

ALLMENDINGER, P., TEWDWR-JONES, M. and MORPHET, J. (2003a), ‘Public scrutiny, standards and the planning system: assessing professional values within a modernized local government’, Public Administration, 81, 761-80. ‘Public scrutiny, standards and the planning system: assessing professional values within a modernized local government’ Public Administration 81 761 80 Google Scholar

ALLMENDINGER, P., TEWDWR-JONES, M. and MORPHET, J. (2003b), ‘New order - planning and local government reforms’, Town and Country Planning, 72, 274-77. ‘New order - planning and local government reforms’ Town and Country Planning 72 274 77 Google Scholar

AUDIT COMMISSION 2005, Planning Services - Reinspection: Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, London, Audit Commission. Google Scholar

BARLEY, S. R. and TOLBERT, P. S. (1997), ‘Institutionalization and structuration: studying the links between action and institution’, Organization Studies, 18, 93-17. ‘Institutionalization and structuration: studying the links between action and institution’ Organization Studies 18 93 17 Google Scholar

BOLTON, S. C. (2002), ‘Consumer as king in the NHS’, International Journal of Public Sector Management, 15, 129-39. ‘Consumer as king in the NHS’ International Journal of Public Sector Management 15 129 39 Google Scholar

BOYNE, G. A, GOULD-WILLIAMS, J., LAW, J. and WALKER, R. (2002), ‘Plans, performance information and accountability: the case of best value’, Public Administration, 80, 691-710. ‘Plans, performance information and accountability: the case of best value’ Public Administration 80 691 710 Google Scholar

BRERETON, M. and TEMPLE, M. (1999), ‘The new public service ethos: an ethical environment for governance’, Public Administration, 77, 455-74. ‘The new public service ethos: an ethical environment for governance’ Public Administration 77 455 74 Google Scholar

BROADBENT, J. and LAUGHLIN, R. (1997), ‘Evaluating the new public management reforms in the UK: a constitutional possibility?’, Public Administration, 75, 487-507. ‘Evaluating the new public management reforms in the UK: a constitutional possibility?’ Public Administration 75 487 507 Google Scholar

CAMPBELL, H. and MARSHALL, R. (2005), ‘Professionalism and planning in Britain’, Town Planning Review, 76, 191-214. ‘Professionalism and planning in Britain’ Town Planning Review 76 191 214 Google Scholar

CCC (COVENTRY CITY COUNCIL) 2007. ‘City Planning Services Customer Charter’ http://www.coventry.gov.uk/ccm/cms-service/stream/asset/?asset_id=16592238 Google Scholar

CLARKE, J. (2004), ‘Dissolving the public realm? The logics and limits of neo-liberalism’, Journal of Social Policy, 33, 27-48. ‘Dissolving the public realm? The logics and limits of neo-liberalism’ Journal of Social Policy 33 27 48 Google Scholar

CLARKE, J. and NEWMAN, J. (1997), The Managerial State: Power, Politics and Ideology in the Remaking of Social Welfare, London, Sage. The Managerial State: Power, Politics and Ideology in the Remaking of Social Welfare Google Scholar

CLARKE, J. and NEWMAN, J. (2007), ‘What's in a name? New Labour's citizen-consumers and the remaking of public services’, Cultural Studies, 21, 738-57. ‘What's in a name? New Labour's citizen-consumers and the remaking of public services’ Cultural Studies 21 738 57 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

COAFEE, J. and HEALEY, P. (2003), ‘"My voice: my place?": tracking transformations in urban governance’, Urban Studies, 40, 1979-99. ‘"My voice: my place?": tracking transformations in urban governance’ Urban Studies 40 1979 99 Google Scholar

CRAIG, D. (2006), Plundering the Public Sector, London, Constable. Plundering the Public Sector Google Scholar

DAVIES, A. and THOMAS, R. (2003), ‘Talking cop: discourses of change and policing identities’, Public Administration, 81, 681-99. ‘Talking cop: discourses of change and policing identities’ Public Administration 81 681 99 Google Scholar

DAVIES, J. (1972), The Evangelistic Bureaucrat: A Study of a Planning Exercise in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, London, Tavistock Publications. The Evangelistic Bureaucrat: A Study of a Planning Exercise in Newcastle-upon-Tyne Google Scholar

DEAN, M. (1999), Governmentality: Power and Rule in Modern Society, London, Sage. Governmentality: Power and Rule in Modern Society Google Scholar

DU GAY, P. (1996), Consumption and Identity at Work, London, Sage. Consumption and Identity at Work Google Scholar

DU GAY, P. (2000), In Praise of Bureaucracy, London, Sage. In Praise of Bureaucracy Google Scholar

DU GAY, P. and SALAMAN, G. (1992), ‘The cult[ure] of the customer’, Journal of Management Studies, 29, 615-33. ‘The cult[ure] of the customer’ Journal of Management Studies 29 615 33 Google Scholar

FAGERMOEN, M. S. (1997), ‘Professional identity: values embedded in meaningful nursing practice’, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 25, 434-41. ‘Professional identity: values embedded in meaningful nursing practice’ Journal of Advanced Nursing 25 434 41 Google Scholar

FREIDSON, E. (2001), Professionalism: The Third Logic, Cambridge, Polity. Professionalism: The Third Logic Google Scholar

GASTER, L. and RUTQVIST, H. (2000), ‘Changing the ‘front line’ to meet citizen needs’, Local Government Studies, 26, 53-70. ‘Changing the ‘front line’ to meet citizen needs’ Local Government Studies 26 53 70 Google Scholar

GILLMAN, S. (2008), ‘Professional promotion’, Planning, 4 July 2008, 10. ‘Professional promotion’ Planning 10 Google Scholar

GOLDSMITH, M. J. and PAGE, E. C. (1997), ‘Farewell to the British State’, in J. E. Lane (ed.), Public Sector Reform: Rationale, Trends and Problems, London, Sage, 147-67. Public Sector Reform: Rationale, Trends and Problems 147 67 Google Scholar

GONZALEZ, S. and HEALEY, P. (2005), ‘A sociological institutionalist approach to the study of innovation in governance capacity’, Urban Studies, 42, 2055-69. ‘A sociological institutionalist approach to the study of innovation in governance capacity’ Urban Studies 42 2055 69 Google Scholar

HAYTON, K. (2002), ‘Scottish development planning: on the brink of change?’, Planning Practice and Research, 17, 317-30. ‘Scottish development planning: on the brink of change?’ Planning Practice and Research 17 317 30 Google Scholar

HEALEY, P. (2003), ‘Collaborative planning in perspective’, Planning Theory, 2, 101-23. ‘Collaborative planning in perspective’ Planning Theory 2 101 23 Google Scholar

HEALEY, P. (2007), ‘The New Institutionalism and the Transformative Goals of Planning’, in N. Verma (ed.), Institutions and Planning, Bingley, Emerald Group Publishing Ltd. Institutions and Planning Google Scholar

HEBSON, G., GRIMSHAW, D. and MARCHINGTON, M. (2003), ‘PPPs and the changing public sector ethos: case-study evidence from the health and local authority sectors’, Work, Employment and Society, 17, 481-501. ‘PPPs and the changing public sector ethos: case-study evidence from the health and local authority sectors’ Work, Employment and Society 17 481 501 Google Scholar

HOGGETT, P. (1996), ‘New modes of control in the public service’, Public Administration, 74, 9-32. ‘New modes of control in the public service’ Public Administration 74 9 32 Google Scholar

HORTON, S. (2006), ‘New Public Management: its impact on public servant's identity’, International Journal of Public Sector Management, 19, 533-42. ‘New Public Management: its impact on public servant's identity’ International Journal of Public Sector Management 19 533 42 Google Scholar

HUGMAN, R. (2003), ‘Professional values and ethics in social work: reconsidering postmodernism?’, British Journal of Social Work, 33, 1023-41. ‘Professional values and ethics in social work: reconsidering postmodernism?’ British Journal of Social Work 33 1023 41 Google Scholar

HULL, A. (2000), ‘Modernizing democracy: constructing a radical reform of the planning system?’, European Planning Studies, 8, 767-82. ‘Modernizing democracy: constructing a radical reform of the planning system?’ European Planning Studies 8 767 82 Google Scholar

KELLY, B. (1991), ‘The professional values of English nursing undergraduates’, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 16, 867-72. ‘The professional values of English nursing undergraduates’ Journal of Advanced Nursing 16 867 72 Google Scholar

KITCHEN, T. (2006), Skills for Planning Practice, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan. Skills for Planning Practice Google Scholar

KITCHENER, M., KIRKPATRICK, I. and WHIPP, R. (2000), ‘Supervising professionals under New Public Management: evidence from an ‘invisible trade’, British Journal of Management, 11, 213-26. ‘Supervising professionals under New Public Management: evidence from an ‘invisible trade’ British Journal of Management 11 213 26 Google Scholar

KORCZYNSKI, M. and OTT, U. (2004), ‘When production and consumption meet: cultural contradictions and the enchanting myth of customer sovereignty’, Journal of Management Studies, 41, 575-99. ‘When production and consumption meet: cultural contradictions and the enchanting myth of customer sovereignty’ Journal of Management Studies 41 575 99 Google Scholar

LANE, J. E. (ed.) (1997), Public Sector Reform: Rationale, Trends and Problems, London, Sage. Public Sector Reform: Rationale, Trends and Problems Google Scholar

LANE, J. E. (2000), New Public Management, London, Routledge. New Public Management Google Scholar

LOWNDES, V. (2001), ‘Rescuing Aunt Sally: taking institutional theory seriously in urban politics’, Urban Studies, 38, 1953-71. ‘Rescuing Aunt Sally: taking institutional theory seriously in urban politics’ Urban Studies 38 1953 71 Google Scholar

LOWNDES, V. (2005), ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed… how institutions change (and stay the same) in local governance’, Policy Studies, 24, 291-309. ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed… how institutions change (and stay the same) in local governance’ Policy Studies 24 291 309 Google Scholar

McCANN, E. (2010), ‘Urban policy mobilities and global circuits of knowledge: toward a research agenda’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 101, 107-30. ‘Urban policy mobilities and global circuits of knowledge: toward a research agenda’ Annals of the Association of American Geographers 101 107 30 Google Scholar

McDONOUGH, P. (2006), ‘Habitus and the practice of public service’, Work, Employment and Society, 20, 629-47. ‘Habitus and the practice of public service’ Work, Employment and Society 20 629 47 Google Scholar

NEWMAN, J. (2005), Modernising Governance: New Labour, Policy and Society, London, Sage. Modernising Governance: New Labour, Policy and Society Google Scholar

NEWMAN, J., RAINE, J. and SKELCHER, C. (2001), ‘Transforming local government: innovation and modernization’, Public Money and Management, 21, 61-68. ‘Transforming local government: innovation and modernization’ Public Money and Management 21 61 68 Google Scholar

ODPM (OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER) 2005, Planning Policy Statement 1: Delivering Sustainable Development, London, TSO. Google Scholar

OSBORNE, D. and GAEBLER, T. (1992), Reinventing Government: The Political Theory of Reinvention, Reading MA, Addison-Wesley. Reinventing Government: The Political Theory of Reinvention Google Scholar

O'TOOLE, L. J. (2000), ‘Research on policy implementation: assessment and prospects’, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 10, 263-88. ‘Research on policy implementation: assessment and prospects’ Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 10 263 88 Google Scholar

PAINTER, C. (2005), ‘Managing criminal justice: public service reform writ small?’, Public Money and Management, 25, 307-14. ‘Managing criminal justice: public service reform writ small?’ Public Money and Management 25 307 14 Google Scholar

PECK, J., and TICKELL, A. (2002), ‘Neoliberalizing space’, Antipode, 34, 380-404. ‘Neoliberalizing space’ Antipode 34 380 404 Google Scholar

PETERS, B. G. (1999), Institutional Theory in Political Science: The ‘New Institutionalism’, London, Pinter. Institutional Theory in Political Science: The ‘New Institutionalism’ Google Scholar

PRATCHETT, L. and WINGFIELD, M. (1996), ‘Petty bureaucracy and woollyminded liberalism? The changing ethos of local government officers’, Public Administration, 74, 639-56. ‘Petty bureaucracy and woollyminded liberalism? The changing ethos of local government officers’ Public Administration 74 639 56 Google Scholar

ROSENTHAL, P. (2004), ‘Management control as an employee resource: the case of front-line service workers’, Journal of Management Studies, 41, 601-22. ‘Management control as an employee resource: the case of front-line service workers’ Journal of Management Studies 41 601 22 Google Scholar

ROSENTHAL, P. and PECCEI, R. (2006a), ‘Consuming work: front-line workers and their customers in Jobcentre Plus’, International Journal of Public Sector Management, 19, 659-72. ‘Consuming work: front-line workers and their customers in Jobcentre Plus’ International Journal of Public Sector Management 19 659 72 Google Scholar

ROSENTHAL, P. and PECCEI, R. (2006b), ‘The customer concept in welfare administration: frontline views in Jobcentre Plus’, International Journal of Public Sector Management, 19, 67-78. ‘The customer concept in welfare administration: frontline views in Jobcentre Plus’ International Journal of Public Sector Management 19 67 78 Google Scholar

ROSENTHAL, P. and PECCEI, R. (2007), ‘"The work you want, the help you need": constructing the customer in Jobcentre Plus’, Organization, 14, 201-23. ‘"The work you want, the help you need": constructing the customer in Jobcentre Plus’ Organization 14 201 23 Google Scholar

RYDIN, Y. (2003), Urban and Environmental Planning in the UK, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan. Urban and Environmental Planning in the UK Google Scholar

SANDERSON, I. (2001), ‘Performance management, evaluation and learning in "modern" local government’, Public Administration, 79, 291-313. ‘Performance management, evaluation and learning in "modern" local government’ Public Administration 79 291 313 Google Scholar

SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE 2002, Scottish Planning Policy 1, Edinburgh, Scottish Executive. Google Scholar

STURDY, A. (1998), ‘Customer care in a consumer society: smiling and sometimes meaning it?’, Organization, 5, 27-53. ‘Customer care in a consumer society: smiling and sometimes meaning it?’ Organization 5 27 53 Google Scholar

SWAIN, C. and TAIT, M. (2007), ‘The crisis of trust and planning’, Planning Theory & Practice, 8, 229-47. ‘The crisis of trust and planning’ Planning Theory & Practice 8 229 47 Google Scholar

TAYLOR, I. and KELLY, J. (2006), ‘Professionals, discretion and public sector reform in the UK: re-visiting Lipsky’, International Journal of Public Sector Management, 19, 629-42. ‘Professionals, discretion and public sector reform in the UK: re-visiting Lipsky’ International Journal of Public Sector Management 19 629 42 Google Scholar

WLDC (WEST LANCASHIRE DISTRICT COUNCIL) 2007, ‘Planning and Development Services Customer Charter’ http://www.westlancsdc.gov.uk/pdf/planning_charter.pdf Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Clifford, Ben