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International Handbook of Public Management Reform

International Handbook of Public Management Reform

Elgar original reference

Edited by Shaun Goldfinch and Joe L. Wallis

This major Handbook provides a state-of-the-art study of the recent history and future development of international public management reform.

Chapter 3: HRM in the Public Sector: Is It Enough?

Marie-France Waxin and Robert Bateman

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


Marie-France Waxin and Robert Bateman Introduction Two decades of administrative reforms have seen governments around the world initiating changes ranging from the bold in some nations to the rhetorical in others. New human resource management (HRM) practices have perhaps not received the same public attention devoted to contracted service delivery or performance-based budgeting, but the drive to make government more businesslike has had significant impacts on public sector employment. Batal (1997) suggests that increased attention to HRM in government can be attributed to the large numbers of public sector employees in many nations, their resulting impact on government budgets, and the essential role that employees must play in improving organizational efficiency and customer service. Though these same arguments may be made for many private sector enterprises, lower entry and departure rates for employees in the public service place increased importance on effective HRM and the ongoing internal renewal and upgrading of competencies and capabilities. Although government organizations in many nations have adopted some elements of HRM ‘best practice’ in an attempt to improve competence-based performance, this adoption has been less than complete (Morris and Farrell 2007). Based on a study of ten public organizations in the UK, these authors also argue that those reforms that have been implemented often result in significant adverse outcomes, such as longer working hours, reduced job satisfaction and added complexity. Perhaps more important from a strategic perspective, a focus on borrowing technical improvements from industry may – perhaps unintentionally – shift attention away from the need for...

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