The State at Work, Volume 2

The State at Work, Volume 2

Comparative Public Service Systems

Edited by Hans-Ulrich Derlien and B. Guy Peters

Representing the most extensive research on public employment, this volume explores the radical changes that have taken place in the configuration of national public services due to a general expansion of public employment that was followed by stagnation and decreases. Part-time employment and the involvement of women also increased as a component of the public sector and were linked to the most important growth areas such as the educational, health care and personal social services sectors. The two volumes that make up this study shed important insight on these changes.

Chapter 2: Public Employment Trends and the Organization of Public Sector Tasks

Jørgen Grønnegaard Christensen and Thomas Pallesen

Subjects: economics and finance, public sector economics, politics and public policy, public policy


Jørgen Grønnegaard Christensen and Thomas Pallesen THE GROWTH OF MODERN GOVERNMENT The growth of the public sector is perhaps one of the most significant developments in the contemporary western world. This holds true even if some of the tasks undertaken by governments are classical state functions in the double sense of having been government responsibilities for centuries and in most countries. This is the case with defence, police and the courts, and with the basic infrastructure for social and economic communication and transportation. Also the embryonic state had an administrative organization. Tax collection was necessary to finance an army and to wage wars. These few governmental tasks created problems of coordination and control that presupposed the existence of a governmental administration. With modernization, these functions became the backbone of a modern civil service, recruited on the basis of merit and protected from an arbitrary executive and the temptations of corruption through tenure and pension rights (Silberman 1993; Ertman 1997). This classical state, undertaking the classical tasks of government and organized on a civil service basis, still forms the backbone of the modern public sector. During this century, however, government has expanded in two directions in the industrialized world. First, modern government is responsible for the regulation of society in a very broad sense. This regulation covers economic regulation of private business as well as social regulation in the form of environmental protection, area planning, health and occupational safety regulation. Certainly, if we go back to the 19th...

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