NPL Framework – Creating Public Value

Putting the Public at the Heart

Strategic Frameworks for Creating Public Value

The concept of public value is credited to Prof Mark Moore of Harvard University. His public value framework supports public leaders to develop a comprehensive understanding of the constraints and opportunities within their respective working environments. The overall aim is to create publicly valuable outcomes. In his view, “successful public managers are explorers commissioned by society to search for public value” (Moore, 1995).

Strategic Triangle

In this topic we consider how the creation of public value can be developed through strategic frameworks. We briefly focus on how to address the need for an understanding of public need. In Moore’s initial strategic triangle, stakeholders include the authorising environment (political and economic values) and the wider public (i.e. social values through communities) whose social goals need to be met and whose members of which should be actively engaged in the process. Often neglected in public management is the role of those who will deliver the services representing the organisational capability.

Moore developed a strategic framework based on what is now commonly referred to as the strategic triangle encompassing the three components above (authorising environment, social goals and organisational capability). The triangle enables an analysis of not only the economic constraints and challenges and political discourses but additionally in identifying those values held by citizens and communities. The strategic triangle therefore aims to align socially desirable goals (through mission, values and goals), stakeholders who can authorise the delivery of those goals (in securing legitimacy and thus support), and (often neglected) the operational capability of those charged with its delivery through capability as well as capacity. A revised strategic triangle is illustrated in figure 2. Legitimacy and support will empower the institutions to build capability and capacity to achieve its mission, values and goals. We will explore this further and then look to a more dynamic model to assist us in creating public value.

Public Value Triangle
Figure 2: Mark Moore’s Strategic Triangle of Public Value.

Legitimacy requires the approval of all stakeholders including those who authorise the public service (governments and other politicians) and support will only be forthcoming if this is shared across all stakeholders in building trust. Trust and legitimacy may go hand-in-hand but they are different concepts. Trust is particularly important in securing good relationships across a range of differing contexts. I have previoiusly argued that public trust is an antecedent of public confidence which – in turn – leads to legitimacy (Brookes, 2011). Legitimacy then is viewed as a psychological property (or percieved view) of an authority or institution or even a social arrangment which serves to convince the public to believe that “it is appropriate, proper and just” (Tyler, 2005: 375). When this confidence is present, the public will defer to the decisions of legitimate authority voluntarily rather than for either fear or personal reasons. It is because it is in the public interest.

Trust is difficult to measure – which is an important issue when considering its central role in defining public value; legitimacy is even harder! Capability and capacity concern the building of skills and competencies and the provision of resources and organisational effort in seeking to implement the mission through its goals and values. It increasinlgy requires collaborative capability. Finally, the capability and capacity will be directed towards the public value mission and its underpinning values. This all points to the reason why the
organisation or institution exists, a point that is made in a further section of this portal where I introduce the collective leadership model .

The Three Components of Success for Public Leaders to Create Public Value

Social Goals: Driven by a sense of mission and purpose, which are accepted as substantially valuable by the political authorising environment, provide substance to the public who will receive the services and in which the community play an active role in locally based leadership.

Capability and Capacity: The organisation builds the capability to respond to the leadership challenges in delivering its goals, but which is operationally feasible. The role of organisational leadership is to oversee the implementation in accordance with the wider mission.

Authorising Environment: The aims need to be legitimate, politically sustainable and agreed by all relevant stakeholder. Support is provided through political leadership in aligning resources and guidance in terms of capability, capacity and implementation programmes.

Both the strategic triangle and the underpinning success factors are built upon further in the development of our Public Value Pyramid in the topic below.


Brookes, S. (2011) Crisis, confidence and collectivity: Responding to the new public leadership challenge. Leadership,7(2), 175-195.

Moore, M. H. (1995) Creating public value : strategic management in government. Cambridge, Mass. ; London: Harvard University Press.

Tyler, T. R. (2005) Psychological Perspectives on Legitimacy and Legitimation. Annual Review of Psychology, 57(1), 375-400.

Six Steps of Public Value

This six-step model provides a roadmap for the creation and delivery of public value.

In summary, the first two steps concern the need to understand public value. You explored this briefly in the previous topic.  Creating public value first requires understanding of both the concept of public value and the actual public need.  Understanding public need is achieved by identifying the different values of stakeholders and – working with those stakeholders – in identifying current challenges and networks.

Remember that there are three elements and three components to public value; (1) social, economic and political value and (2) social goals, ensuring that those goals are delivered in a way that secures trust and legitimacy and building organisational capability.

The next two steps develop shared aims and shared knowledge in mounting a collective leadership response to the challenges that public leaders and communities face. This is how public value is created which is the main focus for this topic.

In demonstrating public value (the final two steps) the creation of the shared aims and knowledge should then be transferred into the actions needed by transforming a vision to one that focuses on public value by collective action and continuous review.  We consider this in the final topic of this section

Having briefly discussed the six steps in understanding, creating and demonstrating public value, you know have the opportunity to engage in the 30  minute e-learning activity below. You will learn more about the six steps, how this relates to the four faces of the public value pyramid and to test your understanding by taking a brief quiz in which you will be asked to match different levels of public engagement with different forms based on a healthcare example.  Although this is not associated with any particular health institution the examples represent authentic forms of engagement.   This is  one of the key mechanisms for creating public value.  At the end of the activity a brief link will be made with the next section (the Collective Leadership Operational Model based on Compass360 Leadership.

When you have finished the e-activity, reflect on whether your institution focuses no creating public value.  If so, how successful is this and what additional learning can be gained from following the six steps?  If your institution does not focus on public value what impact does this have on the ability to create a collective vision. 

Creating Public Value

Public Value Pyramid

The three components are straight forward but each of these interact in different contexts and will call upon different mechanisms thus producing differing outcome patterns

We have built on Moore’s strategic framework by means of a suggested Public Value Pyramid.  The pyramid encapsulates other elements of Mark Moore’s model but in a way that will help you to understand and apply this in practice. We offer four faces of this triangle as follows:

PV Pyramid Face 1: From Value to Mission


The mission and purpose of the organisation must be aligned to shared values.  Legitimacy and support will only be secured if it is ‘owned’ by those who deliver or receive the service. It is important to achieve this alignment before moving on to consider the capability of the organisation to deliver the public value mission

PV Pyramid Face 2: Political Support and Resourcing

Once the public value mission and purpose has been identified it will only be politically sustainable if it is aimed at creating something that has substantive value (i.e. which constitutes public value) and that it is operationally feasible in terms of resources, capability and capacity. Political sustainability is both with a ‘big’ “P” (those who provide the resources) and a ‘little’ “p” (those who receive or deliver the resources).

PV Pyramid Face 3: Satisfying Stakeholders


The strategy, objectives and plans that are designed to deliver the mission and purpose will need to satisfy all stakeholder needs. Different stakeholders will have different levels of influence so the stakeholder analysis is critically important. Some stakeholders will have a greater degree of power/influence than others but balancing these needs will be an imperative of public value and should drive organisational implementation

PV Pyramid Face 4: Collective Leadership

Once the strategy, objectives and plans have been agreed, the actions should then be undertaken collectively with all elements of leadership being aligned. Clearly the organisational leadership is the critical element but legitimacy and support will only be secured if both political and community leadership are engaged.

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