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 9: Public Personnel Policies and Personnel Administration

Jorgen Gronnegaard Christensen and Robert Gregory

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


Jørgen Grønnegaard Christensen and Robert Gregory INTRODUCTION The public sectors within the OECD countries differ in important respects – tasks, structure, size (measured in both financial and manpower terms), and in sources of finance. The variation reflects political choices made at critical junctures within different historical contexts. Yet the public sectors within western countries also share common traits, particularly in the area of personnel policies and their administration. There are at least three main commonalities among them. First, they have civil service systems based on merit criteria for recruitment and promotion, and lifelong tenure is the prima facie presumption underlying a public sector career. Second, they are all big employers. Even allowing for the differences listed above, the public sector is the biggest employer in any of the countries studied here. And third, in all countries seemingly radical reforms have been undertaken in the public sector. These changes have been impelled by concerns for greater economy and efficiency, and by a paradigmatic shift away from traditional civil service conventions in favour of ideas embodied in the movement known as New Public Management (NPM). Traditionally the literature on public personnel policy and administration has tended to focus on the senior civil service, those who staff the upper echelons of central government, federal agencies and the like. These top civil servants closely interact with political executives and, to some extent, with members of the legislature. This focus is understandable, given the conspicuousness, prestige and mandarin mystique...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information