Table of Contents

Human Resource Management in the Public Sector

Human Resource Management in the Public Sector

New Horizons in Management series

Edited by Ronald J. Burke, Andrew J. Noblet and Cary L. Cooper

This insightful book presents current thinking and research evidence on the role of human resource management policies and practices in increasing service quality, efficiency and organizational effectiveness in the public sector.

Chapter 8: Management and leadership development in public service organizations

Patrick McGurk

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, organisational behaviour, public management, politics and public policy, public administration and management, public policy


The question of how to raise the quality of management and leadership in public service organizations (PSOs) has been central to reform efforts in recent decades. One response has been to recruit inspirational senior executives to help transform PSOs, such as local government or civil service departments, schools and hospitals (see Borins, 2000; Boyne et al., 2008; Storey, 2004a: 13). Another has been the identification of management and leadership ‘competences’, which are then used to direct managers’ behaviour in the public services and professions (Burgoyne et al., 2004: 13–16; Horton, 2002). A third response, though one which has received less academic scrutiny, has been a surge in management and leadership development (MLD) initiatives, designed to improve the knowledge, skills and capabilities of public managers. The international trend of increasing investment in MLD for the public sector has been widely recognized (Guest and King, 2005: 248–49; Raffel et al., 2009; Lawler, 2008: 22; Storey, 2004b: 4–6). But little is known about the actual impact of MLD initiatives on modernization and change in PSOs (Charlesworth et al., 2003; Burgoyne et al., 2004: 70), not least because this type of intervention is notoriously difficult to quantify (see Tamkin et al., 2002; Martineau, 2004).

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