Comparative Public Service Systems
Edited by Hans-Ulrich Derlien and B. Guy Peters
Chapter 3: Public Employment and Multilevel Governance in Unitary and Federal Systems
3. Public employment and multilevel governance in unitary and federal systems Helen Nelson As policy agendas change, so public workforces expand or contract, across policy areas and across levels of government. In the period since the end of the Second World War, public sector employment in all countries, unitary and federal, in this present sample has undergone two major changes of direction: a period of extensive expansion followed by one of withdrawal and cutback, the former generated by the introduction of welfare state social policies and the latter a response to economic exigencies and/or reversion to ‘small government’ ideologies. The initial impact of the post-war welfare state agendas was evidenced in a substantial growth in public sector employment, most notably at subnational government levels. Governmental responses to the management of the newly expanded workforces varied, shaped by diverse cultural, political and administrative historical legacies. Overriding the national diﬀerences, however, governments trod a common evolutionary path. In common among the countries included in this study, the period of workforce expansion was accompanied by reorganizations of the machinery of government, particularly at the sub-national levels and most particularly in the rapidly expanding health and education policy areas. The subsequent period of restraint and cutback in public employment in the 1980s and 1990s and the complexities entailed in planning, resourcing and delivering universal social policy programmes spawned a spreading intertwinement of the functions of governments at diﬀerent levels. The resultant multilevel government proﬁles show relatively smaller-sized national-level governments adopting a...
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