Abstract : The public debate on change within the public sector is actually structured along a demarcation line opposing upholders of performance and efficiency who lean toward privatization of public services, and, by another side, those who linken the defense of public services and state intervention to the rejection of any kind of evolution and the rejection of any objective of performance improvement. The research program must be enriched to be able to get out of such false alternatives and to link the political question of the role of the sate and the technical one of administrative reform.
We structure the debate around the theory of knowledge, showing that theses postures both relate to logical positivism and leave aside what is really at stake with change in the public sector. In the tradition of Friedrich V. Hayek, we propose another demarcation line, between evolutionism and positivism. Drawing on the Northian distinction between organizations and institutions, we analyze their respective dynamics and the link to be established between organizational and institutional innovation within the public sector. This new focus implies a return of the political philosophy as a bearing point for public management.
Secondly, we define enrichment proposal for the research program in public management such as to link political philosophy issues and practical effectiveness and efficiency. Change in a uncertain environment asks for a revision of institutions underlying beliefs and call for a trial and errors learning process. According to the prevailing demarcation line, politics is an overhead. In our perspective it regains its full role in the classical sense of classical republicanism. In this way, public management may be included in the domain of moral sciences.