Public Value: Theory & Practice

1001004010441406Benington, John and Mark H. Moore, 2011, Palgrave Macmillan

‘Public value’ is the value that government creates through its citizens and which citizens themselves value. It should be understood not simply as ‘what does the public most value’ but as ‘what adds most value to the public sphere?’. Public value is a relatively new and still developing political and administrative theory. It is distinct from New Public Management and from public choice theory. Its best known exponent is Professor Mark Moore of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Public value offers a more holistic way of thinking about goals and performance of public policy. It is a theory that works comfortably alongside systems thinking and strategic analysis, and is therefore well-suited to cross-cutting work (tackling the so-called ‘wicked-issues’). By applying a public value test to statements of goals, outcomes and vision statements, it can aid decision-making.