Exploiting Conditionality: EU and International Actors and post-NPM Reform in Ireland

Muiris MacCarthaigh*, Niamh Hardiman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
282 Downloads (Pure)


Between 2008-15 Ireland undertook unprecedented and systemic public sector reforms in a polity not traditionally considered a prominent reformer. While some of these reforms comprised part of the loan programme agreement with EU and international actors, many others did not. This article argues that the crisis in Ireland provided a window of opportunity to introduce reforms that political and administrative elites had previously found difficult to implement. The authority of the Troika was invoked to provide legitimacy for controversial initiatives, yet some of the reforms went further than the loan programme strictly required. A number of these concerning organisational rationalisation, the public service ‘bargain’ and transversal policy coordination, are considered here. Agreements were negotiated with public sector unions that facilitated sharp cuts in pay and conditions, reducing the potential for opposition to change. The reform effort was further legitimated by the reformers’ post-NPM, whole-of-government discourse, which situated considerations of effectiveness and efficiency in a broader framework of public service quality and delivery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-200
Number of pages22
JournalPublic Policy and Administration
Issue number2
Early online date01 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2019


  • Global financial crisis
  • Ireland
  • post-New Public Management
  • public sector reform
  • Troika

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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