Reinventing government

Frank J. Thompson, Norma M. Riccucci

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


This review offers a synthesis and critical assessment of the reinvention movement in the United States. Focusing on the work of David Osborne, the National Performance Review, and the Winter Commission, it describes the key themes that define this movement and then assesses them from two major perspectives. The first perspective probes whether reinvention ideology provides a plausible prescription for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of public agencies. The second focuses on the implications of reinvention for accountability and related democratic concerns. The degree to which reinvention ideas appear to be taking root at the various levels of the federal system also receives attention. The authors conclude that the reinvention movement should not be dismissed as the latest fad, but rather as the fount of several plausible hypotheses that should be tested further. They also suggest that the American political system will place major, although not necessarily insurmountable, barriers in the way of sustaining reinvention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-257
Number of pages27
JournalAnnual Review of Political Science
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Administrative reform
  • National performance review
  • Public administration
  • Reinvention
  • Winter commission


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