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An introduction to public leadership
An introduction to public leadership

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2.1 Value creation in the public sphere

Mark Moore of Harvard University developed the original approach to public value (Moore, 1995) and this was then developed further by John Benington and Mark Moore in 2011. They created a framework that focused on the added value created by public services. They recognised that measures of added value needed to go beyond the counting of activities, or even the counting of outputs (e.g. stop and search, number of arrests or convictions), to include ways in which public organisations contributed to the wider aims of society – for example, creating a fair, just or peaceful society or enabling citizens to live confident, safe and fulfilling lives.

This approach has been applied in both the USA and the UK, and it takes account of ‘networked governance’ – that is that there are multiple stakeholders who are involved in creating and evaluating decisions that affect society, and who have a view about what is valuable and/or desirable.

According to Benington (2011), there are two components of public value:

  • What the public value: that is, what the public indicate that they value or see as important priorities, which is sometimes different from what they actually want. This involves politicians and professionals taking into account the values, needs and aspirations of citizens (individually and collectively) as the professionals design, provide and evaluate services.
  • What adds value to the public sphere:What adds value to the public sphere: value cannot be determined solely from the first component, otherwise it could be based on populist or majoritarian views, whereas a fair society also needs to consider both the longer term (e.g. protecting future generations) and minority views. The public sphere is the web of places, organisations, cultures, rules and knowledge that are held in common by people and held in trust by government and public organisations.

Value may include:

  • political value (stimulating and supporting democratic participation and dialogue)
  • economic value (generation of economic activity and employment)
  • social value (strengthening social capital, social cohesion, social relationships and culture)
  • ecological value (contributing to environmental sustainability).

These two aspects of public value (what the public value, and what is of value to the public sphere) are often in tension and sometimes in conflict with each other, but the two belong together and tensions can lead to healthy debate, notes Benington.

Public value is not only created by the public sector. Private sector and voluntary sector organisations can also create and add public value. However, one of the key roles of the state and its agencies can be to harness the work of other partners behind clear public value goals and outcomes.