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New development: Expanding public service value to include dis/value

Cluley, Victoria; Parker, Steven; Radnor, Zoe


Assistant Professor in Sociology

Steven Parker

Zoe Radnor


This article introduces two new terms to the public value lexicon: ‘public service ethos’ and ‘dis/value’. Both terms serve to progress the conceptualization of public value. ‘Public service ethos’ is used to refer to the prevailing assumption that the inclusion of service user voices in the delivery and improvement of public services creates individual and societal benefits (public value). ‘Dis/value’ refers to the public value relationships that fall outside of the public service ethos. Three service assemblages are used to exemplify this. These examples show that a theory–practice disjuncture is present, whereby the ‘public service ethos’ is not practicable based on its anthropomorphic focus and the consequent failure to recognize complexity. To overcome this, the authors draw on new materialist theory to reposition public value as a relational assemblage that can accommodate value in all combinations. IMPACT For public service managers and policy-makers, value is now a common buzzword and its creation or production processes represent common approaches to service delivery. Increasing numbers of academic studies argue that public value is overly optimistic and premised on overly positive ideals of universal benefit. Two new terms are proposed in this article that both critique current approaches to public value and also expand the concept to reflect the complex reality of public service practice: dis/value and public service ethos. Public service ethos represents the idealism associated with the public value and dis/value accounts for public value relationships and experiences that fall outside of this. These terms are intended to further the conceptualization of value and also translate theoretical development into a language that both reflects and can be used in public service practice.


Cluley, V., Parker, S., & Radnor, Z. (2021). New development: Expanding public service value to include dis/value. Public Money and Management, 41(8), 656-659.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Mar 11, 2020
Publication Date Nov 17, 2021
Deposit Date Jan 20, 2023
Print ISSN 0954-0962
Electronic ISSN 1467-9302
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 41
Issue 8
Pages 656-659
Keywords Public Administration; Sociology and Political Science; General Business, Management and Accounting; Finance; Accounting
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