International Handbook on Civil Service Systems
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International Handbook on Civil Service Systems

Edited by Andrew Massey

While there is no universally accepted definition of civil servant and civil service, this authoritative and informative Handbook compares and contrasts various approaches to organising the structure and activities of different civil service systems.
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Chapter 3: Contrasting Anglo-American and Continental European Civil Service Systems

Sylvia Horton


Sylvia Horton 3.1 INTRODUCTION Several books on comparative civil services have appeared in recent years (Bekke et al. 1993a, 1993b; Pierre 1995; Page and Wright 1999; Bekke and van der Meer 2000; Butcher and Massey 2003; Halligan 2004; Peters and Pierre 2004; J. Raadschelders et al. 2007; OECD 2008). This signifies a major academic interest in understanding the role and nature of civil service systems and the ways in which political and administrative leaders are responding to the problems and pressures emanating from a common context of globalization, international economic competition and social and technological change. All western governments have introduced programmes of reform or modernization over the last 30 years, which have impacted on their civil service systems. The senior civil servants have been both the agents and the objects of those changes. The apparent similarities in the strategic responses of the early reformers led to the claim that there was a universal paradigm shift taking place from traditional systems of public administration to New Public Management (NPM) (Hood 1991). Later observations of the variations and lack of uniformity in the reform movements led to a revision of the universalist claim and an interest in the variety of reform strategies and explanations of ‘particularism’ or ‘exceptionalism’ (Kickert 1997; Pollitt and Bouckaert 2005; Rhodes and Weller 2007). Western civil services are often divided into an Anglo-American or Anglophone group, including the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), Australia, Canada and New Zealand and the Continental European group. One distinguishing characteristic...

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