The article sets out to reconstruct the debate on administrative reforms, and to give an account of the steps that have and are being taken to change public apparatuses in various countries. In the advanced Western nations, from the 1980s onwards, the doctrine of New Public Management inspired new organizational and operative public-sector architectures that drew on neo-managerial culture and tools, and on performance management indicators. However, during the 90s a number of specificities emerged in the reform programme, and the market-oriented managerial approach began to be accompanied by new principles. These included forms of multilevel governance and new interactive, inter-government and cooperative modalities of public management, or the development of formulas of publicprivate partnership and of hybrid forms of relations between state, society and markets. The final section of the article deals with the managerialization of the Italian public sector, with a view to investigating its degree of adaptation to reformist policies.
Keywords: New public management, new public governance, administrative change.