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Reforming the State: Managerial Public Administration in Latin America

Luiz Carlos Bresser Pereira and Peter Spink, editors
ISBN: 978-1-55587-374-5
1999/214 pages/LC: 99-24072

"An elegantly written and consistently structured book that scrutinizes Latin America's attempts at remedying the intrinsic weakness of its states and the fragility of its democratic governance.... important and timely."—Carlos Santiso, Democratization

"This volume brings together thoughtful essays on the new public management with a series of essays grounded in the historical experience of Latin America. Together, the essays lay out the nature of what needs to be done to turn inefficient, ineffective and unresponsive states into ones capable of providing for the public interest."—Merilee S. Grindle, The Journal of Latin American Studies

"Reforming the State demonstrates that the neoclassical complacency about markets is no longer tenable."—Carlos Santiso, European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies


Neoconservative proposals for a minimal state notwithstanding, it has become increasingly clear in Latin America (and elsewhere) that the state must in fact be strengthened and the civil service reformed. This book contributes to the debate about the optimum role of the state, advancing the managerial approach to improving state capacity as far more effective than the bureaucratic perspective.

The authors explore general themes of managerial public administration and government reform, then focus on specific Latin American experiences and trends. Prominent throughout the book is the conviction that effective and efficient public policies require not only the action of the federal government, but also the active involvement of civil society and local governing bodies. Discussions of accountability, empowerment, citizenship values, new management instruments, and new institutions all point to the importance of a closer relationship between state and society in rebuilding the state to meet current and future challenges.


Luiz Carlos Bresser Pereira is professor of economics at the Getulio Vargas Foundation. He has served previously as Brazil's minister of federal administration and state reform and, in 1987, as minister of finance. Peter Spink is professor and coordinator of the Program in Public Management and Citizenship at the Getulio Vargas Foundation's São Paulo School of Business Administration.


  • Foreword—Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
  • Preface—The Editors.
  • Managerial Public Administration: Strategy and Structure for a New State—L.C. Bresser Pereira.
  • On the Design of the State: A Principal-Agent Perspective—A. Przeworski.
  • The Global Revolution: Reforming Government-Sector Management—D. F. Kettl.
  • The Complementarity of Economic Restructuring and Rebuilding the State in Latin America—W. Glade.
  • Possibilities and Political Imperatives: 70 years of Administration Reform in Latin America—P. Spink.
  • From Bureaucratic to Managerial Public Administration in Brazil—L.C. Bresser Pereira.
  • Democratic Governability in Latin America at the end of the Twentieth Century—J. Prats Català.