International Challenges and Perspectives
Edited by Jeffrey A. Raffel, Peter Leisink and Anthony E. Middlebrooks
Chapter 2: Government Reform and Public Service Values in Democratic Societies
2. Government reform and public service values in democratic societies Frances Stokes Berry The contemporary problem is how to organize the public sector so that it can adapt to the changing needs of society, without losing coherence of strategy or continuity of governance values. (OECD 2005, p. 13) INTRODUCTION There has been an international revolution in government management over the past thirty years. It is unprecedented in the breadth and scope of countries impacted, and it has occurred in both developed and developing countries alike. We are moving past incremental changes in government reform and considering ways to transform government into fundamentally different organizations from those in the industrial era. What does it mean to create a ‘transformed’ government? It involves change, of course. Webster’s dictionary defines transformation as: ‘An act, process or instance of change in structure, appearance or character; a conversion, revolution, makeover or renovation.’ Transformation is more than incremental changes; it involves a fundamental redoing of program design, application of technology and business processes. While every country has a unique footprint of how its administrative reforms have unfolded and which have been undertaken, there are many commonalities across countries, and there is evidence that much diffusion and cross-country learning has been taking place (for example, OECD 1997, 2005; Pollitt and Bouckaert 2000). The administrative reform movements in Great Britain and the United States were linked with Thatcher and Reagan, respectively, and had a distinctly ideological fervor about them, to downsize and decentralize government. Many developing countries adopted...
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