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 15: Case study of ‘peak performing’ public sector units and successful change efforts

Michela Arnaboldi and Giovanni Azzone

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


Since the mid-1980s, government reforms have been characterized by a managerial shift, addressed as new public management (NPM) (Hood, 1991; 1995; Lapsley, 2008), in which organizations have been challenged to move away from centralized, homogenous, bureaucratic models to new configurations characterized by autonomy and flexibility (Pollitt, 2009). This increased autonomy has created higher heterogeneity of performances among public administration, which still raises the questions (Lapsley, 2009; Arnaboldi and Azzone, 2010; Pipan and Czarniawska, 2010; Arnaboldi and Palermo, 2011) of how these differences emerged within the same legislative context, and how some organizations – here addressed as peak performers – have been able to better seize the opportunities offered by autonomy. More specifically, in this contribution, we analyze how and on which factors peak performers have leveraged to enact a process of change, which is now visible in markedly better performances.

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