Comparative Public Service Systems
Edited by Hans-Ulrich Derlien and B. Guy Peters
Chapter 9: Public Personnel Policies and Personnel Administration
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...
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