Perspectives Across Frontiers
Edited by Leo W.J.C. Huberts, Jeroen Maesschalk and Carole L. Jurkiewicz
Chapter 11: Removing Employee Protections: A ‘See no Evil’ Approach to Civil Service Reform
James S. Bowman and Jonathan P. West INTRODUCTION Ethics in public service is inﬂuenced by two norms – political exchange and civic culture – that co-exist in varying degrees and at diﬀerent times in many Western democratic societies. The ﬁrst is premised on contracts, favors and jobs in exchange for political support; it is susceptible to corruption because it feeds an environment of cronyism, sycophancy, favoritism and waste. In contrast, a civic culture is one in which the commonweal is the central value; it is based on universally applicable rules, equal treatment, professional ethics and stewardship of public resources. Promoting the public good, not personal gain, is the objective (adapted from Rosenbloom, 1998: 536–8; also see Schlesinger, 1986). Civil service systems, reﬂecting such tensions, confront competing demands for political responsiveness and professional competence. In the last generation, the emphasis between these two traditions has shifted in most democracies from a public service imbued by civic culture norms toward one of political exchange. The New Public Management (NPM) movement (Hood, 1991; Pollitt, 1990; Pollitt and Bouckaert, 2004) challenged the long-standing merit system model, characterized by nonpartisan public servants, as inﬂexible and unresponsive to contemporary needs. To improve eﬀectiveness, reduce expenditures and enhance accountability, reform deregulated personnel systems, defunded agencies, downsized staﬀ, privatized services, augmented managerial discretion, empowered citizens and strengthened political control. Such actions often included reforms in ﬁnancial management (emphasizing results and performance), civil service (relaxing rigidities), organizational structures (mandating decentralization) and service delivery (seeking competition...
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