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 5: Experiments with Joined-up, Horizontal and Whole-of-Government in Anglophone Countries

John Halligan, Fiona Buick and Janine O’Flynn


John Halligan, Fiona Buick and Janine O’Flynn Second generation reform in Anglophone countries gave prominence to horizontal, cross-government, cross-boundary and inter-agency questions. Having previously emphasized disaggregation and the diffusion of delegated and contractual responsibilities, in this new phase what was once broadly subsumed under coordination became mainstreamed under new terminology and emphases. The starting point, ‘whole-of-government’, is sufficiently broad to encompass a range of themes contending for distinctiveness as expressions of a horizontal focus (Christensen and Laegreid 2007), even if the reality is one of overlapping and inconsistent concepts and practice. The field is beset with different terminologies and ambiguous use of them as well as fluctuating fashions. For example, ‘joined-up government’ in the UK is often identified with focusing on delivery agencies in different sectors (public, private and third), but also with cross-boundary units and inter-departmental activity. Australia’s ‘whole-of-government’ approach encompasses a range of activities and has, in practice, been used to describe broader strategic and systemic initiatives of government.1 The notion of collaboration has been linked heavily to these horizontal developments; however, whether substantive collaboration – as opposed to cooperation, for example – has actually developed has been questioned (O’Flynn 2009). This chapter considers a range of horizontal experiments from the last decade drawing on the experience of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.2 It examines factors that account for the emergence of this distinctive ‘movement’ in these countries and the several strands that have contended for distinctiveness. The issues with realizing and sustaining effective horizontal government are...

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