The spread of new-public management inspired initiatives across advanced liberal democracies in the 1980s and 1990s were driven by a desire to increase the economic efficiency of state systems - to get ‘more bang for each buck’ to use Osborne and Gaebler’s well known phrase (Osborne/ Gaebler 1992). The disaggregation or deconstruction of large multi-purpose bureaucratic structures into quasi-autonomous single purpose bodies combined with where possible the introduction of market principles would, so the theory suggested, lead to greater specialisation, customer focus and transparency. As the work of the OECD (OECD 2002) has demonstrated in detail, this farreaching wave of administrative reform led to the rapid ‘unbundling’ (PoUitt/ Talbot 2003) or ‘unravelling’ (Hooghe/ Marks 2003, p. 233–243) of the state with a concomitant growth in what has become known as ‘distributed’ or ‘delegated’ public governance (Flinders 2004a, 2004b; Flinders/ Thiel/ Gréve 1999) - the location of key state responsibilities beyond the direct control of elected politicians and their officials. The creation of a dense and administratively complex tier of delegated governance within the topography of most state systems has created both political and leadership challenges. From the political perspective the key challenge lies in designing and implementing new mechanisms of democratic accountability through which this ‘fugitive power’ (Morison 1998) can be scrutinised and ‘blame games’ between organisational leaders and politicians avoided (Hood 2002; see also Flinders 2004c).
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