Newcastle University Business School

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Newcastle University Business School academics publish book called 'Kittens are Evil'

Academics from Newcastle University Business School working with leading thinkers from the worlds of policy and practice have published a book called ‘Kittens are Evil’ which dares to question widely held beliefs about public services.

Professor Rob Wilson, Director of Centre for Knowledge Innovation Technology and Enterprise (KITE), Dr Toby Lowe, senior research associate and Charlotte Pell, visiting fellow of KITE, have published the book to highlight damage caused by applying private sector thinking to public services.

Professor Rob Wilson said: “This is an unconventional book for unconventional times. ‘Kittens are Evil’ challenges current thinking about the use of outcome based measurement and payment-by-results approaches in making judgements about the effectiveness of public services. The book is the first in a series based on the ‘Little Heresies’ seminars which provide an important public platform to debate the future of public services. It’s fantastic to be able to summarise our thoughts, our findings and the debates from the seminars into a book.”

In the book, which is aimed at government policy designers, public sector workers and managers, research academics and practitioners, eight leading thinkers and practitioners in their professional fields explain the effects of New Public Management.

The book considers:

  • Marketisation - Kathy Evans (Chief Executive of Children England) explains why marketisation is deeply destructive in the provision of all public services and for care services in particular
  • Performance Management Practices - Toby Lowe (experienced VCS chief executive and academic) and Simon Guilfoyle (serving police inspector and systems thinker) show how 'Payment by Results', Targets and League Tables guarantee failure of purpose
  • Family policies - Stephen Crossley (campaigner and academic) reveals the true cost of the failed thinking behind the Troubled Families program, and Professor of Social Work Sue White and David Wastell (leading thinkers and academics) share some alarming research being carried out to build designer parents and children
  • Government interference - John Seddon (leading systems thinker and critic of current approaches to public services), Simon Caulkin (journalist inc as a columnist of the Observer and commentator) and Dr Simon Duffy (leading campaigner for personalised budgets and show that 'Whitehall' and interference from government in innovative new services and the management of basic services is deeply problematic.

Charlotte Pell, Visiting Fellow and lead editor of the book said: “This brilliant little book is quite an education, if a disturbing one. If you are frustrated and angry about the direction of public services, you’ll love this book.” 

The book is available from the 5th December, and will be officially launched at the next Little Heresies Seminar: ‘Everything we know about management is wrong’ on Thursday 8th December. The book will be available for purchase at a reduced rate on the night.

The seminar will also feature contributors to book and guest speaker Simon Caulkin, former management columnist for the Observer who will argue that management sort of works. Supermarkets are mostly stocked, and trains get there, eventually. But despite a steady supply of fads and fashions, it doesn’t work very well, and its discontents are mounting.

For more information and to register to attend the event click here for the event page

The book is available from 5 December in paperback, ebook and Kindle format and can be purchased online

published on: 6 December 2016