Public Management Reform and Modernization

Public Management Reform and Modernization

Trajectories of Administrative Change in Italy, France, Greece, Portugal and Spain

Edoardo Ongaro

Since the 1980s, a wave of reforms of public management has swept the world. The investigation into the effects of such major transformations has, however, been unbalanced: important countries have received only limited attention. This timely book fills the gap by investigating the dynamics of contemporary public management reform in five European countries that gave shape to the Napoleonic administrative tradition – France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain.

Chapter 4: Organizational Reforms

Edoardo Ongaro

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


MACRO-LEVEL TRANSFORMATIONS OF THE PUBLIC SECTOR Decentralization and Devolution The first part of this chapter describes the transformations that occurred to the Italian public sector during the 1990s and the 2000s by adopting a macro-level perspective: the broad picture of the reform trajectory is the object of investigation. Two main conceptual frameworks are employed for ordering the empirical evidence: decentralization and specialization and coordination (we are indebted to a number of scholars for these ways of conceptualizing reform trajectories: see particularly Bouckaert et al., 2009; Pollitt, 2005; Pollitt and Bouckaert, 2004; Pollitt et al., 1998). The second part then turns to the organizational design at the level of individual public sector organizations (PSOs): the dominant note here is the trend to increase variety of organizational solutions, as the result of organizational innovations. The first conceptual framework employed for ordering evidence and providing a comparable outline of the macro-level organizational trajectory of reform is decentralization. Decentralization1 may be defined as the process of spreading formal authority from a smaller to a larger number of actors; formal authority may be decentralized in a number of different ways: within an organization or to external bodies, which in turn may be run by elected representatives or appointed; appointed bodies may be public or private, selected by competitive or by non-competitive means. Devolution, in the definition adopted here, is a specific type of decentralization: the decentralization of formal authority to external, legally established organizations run by elected representatives, usually occurring from ‘higher’ to ‘lower’ levels...

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