Why does public management - the art of the state - so often go wrong, producing failure and fiasco instead of public service? What are the different ways in which control or regulation can be applied to government? Why do we find contradictory recipes for the improvement of public services? Are the forces of modernity set to produce world-wide convergence in ways of organizing government? This important new study aims to explore such questions, central to currentdebates over public management. Combining contemporary and historical experience, it employs grid/group cultural theory as an organizing frame and method of exploration. Using examples from different places and eras, the study seeks to identify the recurring variety of ideas about how to organizepublic services. And contrary to widespread claims that modernization will bring a new global uniformity, it argues that variety is unlikely to disappear from doctrine and practice in public management.