Strategic capacity in post devolution government in the UK: A comparative analysis of the lifecycle of central strategy units
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This thesis analyses the changing role of central government strategy units in the devolved UK polity using a lifecycle model. At each stage of the lifecycle the units develop a different aim, undertake different tasks and follow different working approaches. At different stages agency, in the person of the Prime/First Minister, existing structures, or culture and attitudes, particularly around the concept of a corporate centre, form the main influence on change. Following through the lifecycle, it becomes apparent that such central strategic units have a defined life trajectory tending towards their demise through bureaucratic capture or ideological marginalisation. Divergence or convergence between the units is primarily based on leadership style rather than pre-existing structures or constitutional arrangements. Adopting a lifecycle approach, more commonly associated with the business world, provides an alternative conceptual approach to examining the maintenance of governmental organisations. It is a logical progression from the borrowing of business ideas on management and organisation generally categorised as New Public Management. It provides a more appropriate framework of analysis in a situation whereby government is less dependent on traditional polarised ideological positions and instead adopts a strategic, managerial approach to government. As governmental organisations copy the modes of operation of large corporations, the tools of the business world add additional insights into formation, development, change and decline in such organisations not clearly revealed by more commonly adopted political science models.