The Managerial Lineages of Neoliberalism

Knafo, Samuel; Dutta, Sahil Jai; Lane, Richard and Wyn-Jones, Steffan. 2019. The Managerial Lineages of Neoliberalism. New Political Economy, 24(2), pp. 235-251. ISSN 1356-3467 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Managerialism is often depicted as a key practice of neoliberalism yet relatively little has been written by scholars of neoliberalism about the actual relationship between managerialism and neoliberalism. Usually subsumed under a functional reading of neoliberalism, managerialism has too often been understood simply as a means for neoliberal ends (i.e. to promote market rule or competition). This paper challenges this perspective on the grounds that it conflates practices that stem from two different historical lineages. As we show, managerial governance not only has a very different history than neoliberal theory, but it also rests on different principles. Its development can be traced back to the US defence sector in the 1950s and the pivotal role of the RAND corporation. On the basis of this historical perspective, we argue for the need to analyse managerialism on its own terms and make the case for considering the rise of managerial science as a paradigmatic shift in governance. In doing so, we show how managerial governance represented a radical rupture from previous management practices and show how it profoundly reshaped how we have come to understand governance.

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Neoliberalism, New Public Management, governmentality, governance, RAND Corporation

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Politics > Political Economy Research Centre


14 January 2018Accepted
7 February 2018Published Online
February 2019Published

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Date Deposited:

06 Mar 2019 10:07

Last Modified:

11 Jun 2021 22:37

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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