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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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5. Conclusions: Reform Trends in the Field of HRM


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5.  Conclusions: Reform Trends in the Field of HRM

Budgetary constraints have caused a more radical, but arguably less strategic, way of managing expenses in HRM policies. Today, cutback management is once again a central issue in both public management practice and research. We conclude that, in many cases, cutback management is generally not part of a well-thought government or organisation’s long-term strategy, but takes the form of a short-term, reactive reform agenda. Whereas, theoretically, it is possible to do “more with less” and even “better with less”, it is very difficult to achieve these objectives as long as saving resources are the prime objective of all reforms. In fact, in most cases Human Resource Management is subordinated to other policy objectives. Given the lack of empirical evidence in this study, it is difficult to say whether the accumulated knowledge in the field of HRM is taken into account in the policies of strategic public management.

Overall, countries are implementing many reforms in the field of HRM. As a consequence, HRM as such is changing dramatically.

From a more neutral point of view, HR policies in most OECD countries are moving through a fascinating but also a disorienting period. Whereas the past organisational reform trends were characterized by a move away from the classical bureaucratic model, current reforms do not indicate convergence towards a new administrative best-practice model and even the varieties of New Public Management thesis may be unconvincing....

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