Managing it better

Think tank: Social Market Foundation

Author(s): Richard Hyde

April 19, 2023

This report from UK think tank the Social Market Foundation looks at whether leadership and management can improve public service performance.

This briefing from the Social Market Foundation think-tank highlights some of the key ways in which the existing research suggests that leadership and management in the public sector can play an important role in helping bring about improvements in public services. UK public sector performance has been poor for more than two decades, with overall public sector productivity (one metric) growing just 4% in that time. Across the UK and the world, highly-trained public sector leaders and managers are helping deliver better public service performance, offering examples of the gains the UK could benefit from if there was a strong focus on management quality. Good leadership includes articulating a mission that others buy into, inspiring colleagues and leading by example. Effective management practices include setting clear performance goals, underpinned by effective performance management, effective hiring practices and the retention of good staff. This briefing is the first of several outputs, that will be focused upon the topic of how leadership and management in the public sector can help improve service delivery. The next three will look at healthcare, education and local government, in turn.