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Talk as action: Exploring discursive dimensions of welfare state reform

Peter Hupe, Wouter van Dooren



In many New Public Management reforms a direct and causal one-to-one relationship is assumed between reform and better performance. This article challenges this assumption by specifying reform as independent variable. Looking at reform in two comparable welfare states, Belgium and The Netherlands, the discursive aspects of such reform are explored. Reform can be differentiated into reform action and reform talk. Next to measures (action) discourse (talk) seems to be an innate characteristic of reform that may fundamentally help shaping reform results.

Keywords: Welfare state reform, discourse analysis, public service performance


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