Enlargement, Integration and Reform
Edited by Peter Leisink, Bram Stejin and Ulke Veersma
Chapter 10: Reforming Employment Relations in the French Administration Services: Is the Status of Civil Servants an Obstacle to Efficient HRM?
Olivier Mériaux INTRODUCTION The wave of New Public Management (NPM) that has hit all OECD countries during the two last decades has led to major changes in the inner workings of public administrations. Strongly supported and widely diffused by international institutions and private experts alike, the New Public Management’s central credo is that reforms should aim to manage public service organizations on the basis of objectives and targets, rather than observance of rules and precedents as postulated in the classic Weberian ‘Idealtype’ of bureaucracy. However, if ‘the ideas of “New Public Management” have become in essence a Zeitgest for reforming public sector management’ (Hogwood and Peters 2000, p. 4), their actual impact on employment relations seems to vary dramatically across countries. The literature on public sector reform clearly shows that the ‘paradigm shift’ towards a more business-like approach to public management has been more rapid and intense in certain countries, especially the Anglo-American democracies, than in others (Peters 1997). In their efforts to account for these national variations – or to point their fingers at those who are lagging behind – proponents of NPM are quick to denounce the specificity and excessive rigidity of the legal-institutional frameworks that define public employment relations. Indeed, in many European countries, the employment conditions of civil servants are governed by a set of statutory rules laid down by the State, as opposed to the employment contract model that governs employment relations in the private sector. In this respect, the case of France – often described as...
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