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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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2. Theoretical Part

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2.  Theoretical Part

2.1  Public Management and the reform of HRM

Unfortunately, until today no public management theory offers a comprehensible theory and explanation of changing processes. When looking from the past to the present, however, it seems more likely that change will not result in a linear progress for the better, but rather to failures, successes, paradoxes, dilemmas and simple alternation. Choices must therefore be made very carefully. Recent public management theories suggest that some reforms in the public sector are following the same path, whereas others are not. Some claim that partial convergence exists, whereas others are of the opinion that even among the most similar countries, convergence has been exaggerated. Mostly, management science promotes the linear development belief that there is always a better way to do things. Management theory therefore often matches our own cultural belief that anything new is better and promising. For example, the introduction of new information technologies is generally seen as a very positive development which will enhance the transparency, efficiency and effectiveness of public services. Modernisation and change is a Western concept that promises change, progress and a way to improve things. The best known claim for modernisation is the book from Osborne and Gaebler (1992)43 in which the authors state that Western societies are moving to a new “entrepreneurial” paradigm of public management, replacing outdated turn-of-the-century rule-bound design. It is precisely because of this promise, it seems, that new public management...

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