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Doing Better with Less? The Future of the Government Workforce

Politics of Public HRM Reforms in 32 Countries

Christoph Demmke

This publication contributes to a discussion about the future of public employment and HR policies in the context of a changing statehood and new financial pressures. It presents comparative quantitative and qualitative data in the field of public employment and human resources management. These data were collected through the OECD «2015 Survey on Managing Budgeting Constraints: Implications for HRM and Employment in Central Public Administration».

This book provides an improved understanding of the broad reform trends that have affected public employment and human resources management across OECD member countries since the 2008 financial crisis. It challenges many popular assumptions, increasingly puts into question traditional characteristics of public administration systems and provides answers as to many outcomes of HR reforms.

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Annex OECD Questionaire


“Managing Budgeting Constraints Implications for HRM and Employment in Central Public Administration” (OECD, 2014/2015)


Public administration has traditionally been characterised with such bureaucratic features as hierarchical and formalised organisational structure, clear and rigid career paths, lifetime tenure, full-time employment, principle of seniority, specific pension schemes and standardised remuneration systems. These features were introduced in late 19th century to reduce the risk of excessive political influence, corruption, misconduct and instability of government. Today, however, numerous administrative and managerial reforms are affecting these longstanding aspects of public employment. Size and composition of workforce, its working and employment conditions, nature of work, and values and legal status are all undergoing a process of change. So far, budgetary constraints, restructuring programmes and effects of austerity measures have not been a subject of rigorous scrutiny as regards the impact of HR policies and public employment trends. Similarly, the effects of public management reforms have not been studied either and have resulted in national administrations no longer having a single coherent framework. Filling this important gap, this survey attempts to assess the effects of these developments in public employment in the central public administrations of the OECD countries.

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