Centre for Service Management

News and Events

25 Jan 2018

CSM member publishes white paper on improvement in public services sector with ICiPS

Rosamund Chester Buxton

CSM Doctoral Researcher Rosamund Chester Buxton has recently published a white paper, The status of continuous improvement in ICiPS members in 2015, with Dr Nicola Bateman, Professor Zoe Radnor and the Institute for Continuous Improvement in Public Services (ICiPS).

The paper examines the status of continuous improvement (CI) in ICiPS members in 2015, and covers seven case studies of six ICiPS members and one affiliate organisation.

In a time of constrained public spending in the UK, there is a greater emphasis among public service organisations (PSOs) to use methods such as CI to use public resources wisely, and to provide value for money to service users and citizens. Continuous improvement is a process by which all staff within an organisation ‘work together on an ongoing basis improving processes and reducing errors to improve overall performance for the customer’ (Fryer et al., 2007, p.498).

The paper focuses upon the challenges that PSOs in the UK, face in using CI to deliver service improvements in a time of tighten resources and budget cuts. Many of these challenges and themes are well known amongst practitioners and researchers as widely occurring in organisations undertaking CI. This includes, the success of CI projects and the resistance or lack of support at top and middle management level, as well as some sections of staff. Other themes are particular to PSOs, for example, the major motivation for CI is driven by a desire to maintain quality of service in an environment of budgetary constraint. In addition, more emerging themes are substantiated by the case studies in the paper. This includes an awareness of where the organisation is in terms of CI maturity, allied to this are changes to organisational structure, and strategy to accommodate CI, and the ability to deliver in-house training.

As Rosamund explains:

"The white paper provides a critical review of the particular challenges PSOs face, currently and in the future, in using CI to deliver sustainable public services in a time of constrained spending and resources. My co-authors and I are indebted to the seven case organisations and ICiPS, for their invaluable inputs and contributions to the white paper.

"The themes and analysis arising from the report not only provide useful best practice cases for ICiPS members, but also for other PSOs in the UK and internationally."

The white paper can be found here.


Fryer, K. J., Antony, J., & Douglas, A. (2007) ‘Critical success factors of continuous improvement in the public sector: A literature review and some key findings’. The TQM Magazine, 19(5), 497–517. https://doi.org/10.1108/09544780710817900.