International Review of Administrative Sciences

Published by SAGE Publications
Online ISSN: 0020-8523
Publications
Article
This paper summarizes experience of an action-research project on district Project Planning in six drought prone regions in which both the authors were involved for 3 years (1977-78 ? 1980-81). Major thrust of this effort was to institutionalize management culture at district level through setting up district planning cells manned by professional staff. Three models including legitimization ? intervention ? institutionalization phases of action research are briefly discussed together with lessons for further explorations such as: a) It was found that for institutionalizing even a small change at micro level, several concomitant changes are required at higher level. b) Shift in objectives was as inherent condition for an action-research project if learning was to be of the ?researcher? also besides that of ?researched?. c) Lowest levels of bureaucracy have to bear much greater part of the burden for project failures that is generally due. Blame should trickle-up like the credits. d) Grafting a structure like ?District Planning Cell? at lower levels without generating necessary receptivity at all levels of an administrative organization proved a futile effort. e) ?Projects? are probably not the corner-stone of development in backward regions.
 
Article
This paper summarizes progress made in a DfID-funded World Bank initiative to test and develop policy-relevant, politically acceptable, quantitative indicators of governance. There are two major components involved in the process of generating indicators that are practical means of reform. Political acceptability is key in developing neutral quantitative benchmarks of good governance that can be embraced by reformers. In addition to political acceptability, measuring governance must be comprehensive and institutionally specific so that reformers know which institutions to reform and how to do so. This paper explores some of the most promising second generation indicators of good governance and elaborates on how they are being used in World Bank operations.
 
Quebec municipalities by population, in 2010, including survey participation
Theoretical expectations of targets, rankings, and Intelligence Regimes
Quebec municipal benchmarking mandatory performance indicators in 2004 and 2010
The evolution of official objectives for Quebec's Municipal Management Indicators regime, ranked
Article
Quebec's Municipal Management Indicators embodies what Hood (2007) described as an intelligence regime. This research tries to determine if the design of the municipal intelligence performance regime in Quebec, Canada, delivered the expected results. To answer that question, publicly available official documents, minutes of meetings, and survey data are used. The story of Quebec's regime offers a counter-example to Pollitt and colleagues’ (2010) theory that once in place, performance regimes follow a logic of escalation. The municipal intelligence regime in Quebec never moved from formative to summative; from intelligence to targets and rankings. The experience in that Canadian province offers support to Hood's (2007) model about the shortcomings of intelligence regimes. Points for practitioners The case study of a performance regime details an effort with few demands on participants. It is argued that the documented shortcomings are the result of the strategic path initially taken by decision makers, not the result of their later decisions and adjustments. Shielded from public scrutiny and without sanctions from the provincial government, most municipal managers chose not to use the indicators, not to include them in budgets and annual reports, not to compare themselves to others, and not to set targets for themselves. In a mandated regime with bottom-up and voluntary approaches, most municipalities effectively opted out.
 
Article
This article addresses three related issues about the role and functions of government in East Asia in general and Japan in particular. First, it tries to describe the important function of national bureaucracy in Japan’s economic growth, a development mode that has often been labelled ‘statism’ or ‘administrative centred government’. The first section delineates how this model became entrenched in the country. Second, the article highlights several reform attempts to alter this basic configuration of Japanese government power, through efforts to dilute the control of bureaucracy and replace it with an ‘executive centred government’. The second section dwells on this transition and evaluates the results of different reform efforts. Finally, the article examines the effect of the disasters in March 2011 on these aspects of the country’s leadership, noting that the incumbent party leaders had little faith in the wisdom of mandarins, and planned to resolve the ongoing crises by themselves. The final section of the article deals with the schisms and fissures of the interface between electived members and non-elected administrators within the context of Japan’s crises. Points for practitioners The article first describes the ‘statism’ traditional in Japan. How Japanese bureaucrats devised a method to foster rapid development of the country during the 1960s and the early 1970s is the central focus of this section. Subsequently, this article examines the Hashimoto and Koizumi administrations and discusses to what extent they succeeded in entrenching ‘an executive centred government’ to replace the traditional statism mode of management. Later, the article touches on the mammoth earthquake that struck northern Japan on 11 March 2011. The Democratic Party of Japan had to deal with the crises within the confines of the statism legacy.
 
Article
Drawing upon the Malaysian experience as reflected in interviews with selected senior bureaucrats across the Malaysian public service in addition to the first-hand experience of the author in the reform effort, this commentary seeks to analyse the extent to which Malaysia’s approach to public management reform resonates with the proposed approach of the World Bank. The World Bank Approach highlights the central importance of context in reform. Reforms that pre-specify their intended impact upon service delivery have a better chance of success as, among other things, they are better able to attract a disproportionate amount of resources and offer a platform for a blend of top-down and bottom-up approaches to reform where practitioners take heed of the collective wisdom by consulting all stakeholders, including the public. Notwithstanding, reforms on the back of best practices should not be discounted. Combined, these reforms, with the general purpose of enhancing government performance, do impact on service delivery. While a problem-oriented approach to reform is a prerequisite, Malaysia's experience indicates that it is the follow-through of the implementation effort that ultimately determines reform success.
 
Article
The World Bank has recently released its Public Sector Management (PSM) Approach for 2011–20. This commentary reviews the core messages of this document and then indicates how it embodies a convergence between academic research and practice in its approach and analytic framework. It then presents a ‘thought experiment’ about how practitioners might bring scholarship and practice together as suggested by the PSM approach. Nevertheless, effective implementation of the approach will depend on the convergence between the path it lays out for practice and the incentives that World Bank officials face in efforts to improve public sector management in real-world situations.
 
Article
The UK civil service has experienced considerable challenges in introducing new ways of working as well as alternative organizational designs, both for the purposes of achieving ‘best value’ during the last two decades of the last century. In addition to the strategic changes introduced, people development and training has been equally vigorously pursued in order to facilitate the reconfigurations that have been implemented. This article presents the findings of a study exploring how extensive development and training strategies are assisting managers to confront and address the challenges they face better, now and into the future. A mixed picture emerges principally highlighting the challenges of aligning human resource management (HRM) strategy with organizational strategy within a devolved organizational civil service configuration.
 
Article
The Internet is becoming more integral to governments and their modes of doing business and delivering services. This is creating a new imperative to address the digital divide. In Australia, as shown in this article, citizens who are the biggest users of government services are the least likely to be connected to the internet. What can be done to connect the unconnected? The article explores what has been learned from some of the Australian initiatives for connecting the unconnected to online government services. It concludes that greater attention to community-based human capital development is needed. It gives examples of factors needed for success in building socially marginalized communities’ interest, enthusiasm and capacity to interact and communicate via online technologies, thereby contributing to how successful e-government can be in delivering gains in efficiency and improved services.
 
Article
The study from which this article is drawn constitutes one of the first attempts to remedy the paucity of research on accountability in the context of interorganizational networks and public-private partnerships. The data for the study were drawn from field research focusing particularly on partnerships formed between K-12 public schools and private and/or non-profit organizations in the United States. The most frequently cited difficulties associated with accountability in partnerships were the availability of and access to information, sectoral and personal differences, and frequent changes in personnel, resources, and partners.
 
Article
This article deals with accountability in EU new member states (the EU-10). First, the different meanings of the concept of accountability are reviewed. Second, accountability in the EU-10 is analysed in terms of three theoretical perspectives (accountability deficits, overloads and traps). Then the specificity of the accountability regime in the EU-10 is discussed as well as its possible explanations. It is argued that the accountability regime in the EU-10 is characterized by discrepancy between the formal existence of many accountability mechanisms and their actual performance (‘sleeping accountability’). This might be explained by the context in which accountability mechanisms are embedded (the high level of corruption, clientelism, low level of trust), frequent changes in political representation and public administration and the lack of knowledgeable and impartial accountees. The article concludes with implications for empirical comparative research and theory-building. Points for practitioners Accountability is one of the most important public administration concepts, but its empirical investigation is underdeveloped, especially in Central and Eastern European countries. Empirical research must be led by propositions that have practical relevance. Three such propositions – the accountability deficit, overload and asymmetry – are suggested. This includes considering the broader contexts in which accountability is embedded, analysing accountability relations over time, and carefully distinguishing between de jure and de facto accountability.
 
Article
The article explores how recent changes in the governance of employment services in three European countries (Denmark, Germany and Norway) have influenced accountability relationships. The overall assumption in the growing literature about accountability is that the number of actors involved in accountability arrangements is rising, that accountability relationships are becoming more numerous and complex, and that these changes may lead to contradictory accountability relationships, and finally to ‘multi accountability disorder’. The article tries to explore these assumptions by analysing the different actors involved and the information requested in the new governance arrangements in all three countries. It concludes that the considerable changes in organizational arrangements and more managerial information demanded and provided have led to more shared forms of accountability. Nevertheless, a clear development towards less political or administrative accountability could not be observed. Points for practitioners Public organizations in many areas are confronted with and are using ever more and more sophisticated accountability measures to monitor and improve their performance. But many citizens still perceive them as being not accountable enough. These accountability problems are normally treated by recommending and establishing new and more accountability structures with more actors and information requirements and the assumption that these systems will lead to better output and outcome. At the same time there is a widespread fear that these new shared and fragmented accountability structures weaken established political accountability and legitimacy. The article explores these developments by comparing changes in accountability in labour market administration in three countries and finds that there is more shared accountability but at the same time no weakening of political and administrative accountability.
 
Article
The article contributes to the literature on multi-level welfare governance and public accountability in the context of recent European hospital reforms. Focusing on the changing dynamics between regional and central governance of hospitals in Germany, Norway and Denmark, we raise concerns about the reshaping of traditional public accountability mechanisms. We argue that, triggered by growing financial pressures, corporatization and professionalization have increasingly removed decision-making power from regional political bodies in hospital funding and planning. National governments have tightened their control over the overall trajectory of their hospital systems, but have also shifted significant responsibility downwards to the hospital level. This has reshaped public accountability relationships towards more managerial or professional types embedded within multi-level forms of governance. Points for practitioners Our study may be taken to suggest that if reforms are responses to policy pressures, the accompanying changes in accountability relationships and arrangements in turn contribute to altering the pressures and constraints that form the context for administrative, managerial and professional work. As reforms in Norwegian, Danish and German healthcare contribute to corporatization, centralization and economization, there is reason to expect that what officials are held accountable for, and how, is also likely to change and to accentuate the span between policy aims and actual managerial and professional performance.
 
Article
Accountability can be conceptualized as institutionalized mechanisms obliging actors to explain their conduct to different forums, which can pose questions and impose sanctions. This article analyses different ‘crises’ in immigration policies in Norway, Denmark and Germany along a descriptive framework of five different accountability types: political, administrative, legal, professional and social accountability. The exchanges of information, debate and their consequences between an actor and a forum are crucial to understanding how political-administrative action is carried out in critical situations. First, accountability dynamics emphasize conventional norms and values regarding policy change and, second, formal political responsibility does not necessarily lead to political consequences such as minister resignations in cases of misbehaviour. Consequences strongly depend on how accountability dynamics take place. Points for practitioners Political and administrative leaders as well as civil servants are faced with several demands from the wider public and from internal or external peers. There is a relationship between actors and forums that is important in understanding how public administration works. This relationship can be described as accountability dynamics. In cases of crises, these dynamics can overcome or sustain daily administrative practices and routines. Our accountability framework offers a systematic scheme to recognize five accountability relations which should be considered during reorganization processes or policy changing initiatives.
 
Types of accountability 
Article
The recent surge in popularity of ‘accountability’ in public administration and international development seems in part divorced from centuries of conceptual and empirical work done in related disciplines of finance and accounting, and in political science. This article brings together the core meaning of accountability as used in hundreds of previous works, and seeks to bring order to the litany of subtypes in this literature. An organizing scheme with three dimensions (source of control, strength of control, and direction of relationship) captures all the existing varying types of accountability. The resulting typology also clarifies that varying subtypes have not only different actors and characteristics, but also seek to uphold varying values and are facing different challenges. These have important implications both for research and the (im-)possibility of translating findings from one subtype field to another; as well as practical implications for the policy world. Points for practitioners Accountability has several different forms depending on the actors (e.g. citizens–politicians; politicians–bureaucrats; or judges–citizens). These types of accountability seek to protect different values, and are accompanied by varying challenges. Yet, everything is not accountability: it is but one of many possible ways to constrain the (mis-)use of power. This article clarifies the core idea of accountability. It then depicts the full range of subtypes with their different characteristics and problems. This can function as a guide for policy makers and practitioners when seeking to address weaknesses in accountability of varying actors based on acknowledging their differences.
 
Phase concept for accountability 
Article
Consolidation of public sector budgets, fulfilment of fiscal policy requirements and reforms in the provision of public services have made cooperation increasingly important on the international stage. From the perspective of agency theory, this has led to greater information asymmetries and has altered reporting requirements. However, representative empirical studies concerning the provision of information on the Internet on the types of cooperation under which public activities are performed are still not available. A census conducted for 498 websites at local, state and federal government levels for Germany, Austria and Switzerland shows that the reporting requirements have not been met in practice. At the local level in Germany, of the 414 towns with more than 30,000 inhabitants, cooperation reports were available online for 143, which corresponds to 34.5 percent. During the period of the investigation, no cooperation report was provided on the Internet by any town in Austria or Switzerland. Four main recommended actions are formulated for practical application. Points for practitioners Citizens must have opportunities to obtain with minimum effort information on the organizational status quo of public service provision. Moreover, a clear and transparent view of the organizational structure of the public authority, including its types of cooperation, is essential to enable a basis for decision-making for people such as politicians and professionals in administrations to guarantee the sustainable, effective and efficient provision of public sector activities. A cooperation report is a proven management tool in the private sector, and practitioners can gain rewarding cross-national insights if the general public has access to the required information. This could offer helpful approaches for many countries with comparable challenges.
 
Article
This article discusses the investigation of accountability in different national contexts in the rapidly developing and increasingly important policy field of education in Europe. It draws on recent and current research to argue for a focus on what changing practices of accountability in education tell us about changes in governing education (and by extension, other public policy areas) within and across shifting policy spaces. The article further argues that accountability in education is increasingly defined as technical accountability through international and national comparative measures of performance, so that political accountability has been displaced, and performativity contributes to growing problems of diminished trust across and within education systems. Points for practitioners This article seeks to place the development of comparative measures of performance – in education and in other public sector provision – in a critical frame that draws attention to the reduction in political accountability that accompanies the explosion of performance measurement. The article underlines the extent to which competitive measurement of performance both drives out other, more complex forms of assessment of performance and creates relations of mistrust between education professionals and governments. Professionals working in the education sector are encouraged to scrutinize the operation of technologies like PISA and to be informed about their political effects and assumptions
 
Different typologies of accountability 
Visual definition of accountability  
Different processes of accountability
Comparison of privatization, contracting-out, concession PPP and alliance PPP
Visual structure of Flemish alliance PPP  
Article
Several authors have documented a shift from traditional bureaucracies to collaborative arrangements with joint public and private involvement. This article studies the impact of this shift on accountability. We conclude from our explorative case analysis of Public— Private Partnership (PPP) policy in Flanders (Belgium) that there is an accountability paradox. Many prominent players in the policy arena point to serious shortcomings in the accountability of complex PPPs. Yet, with the introduction of PPPs, the number of accountability mechanisms did increase rather than decrease. This remarkable inconsistency between accountability as a tool and as a result is the main focus of this article. How can we avoid that accountability gets lost in the diffusion of public and private responsibilities? Points for practitioners Most research concludes that there is something wrong with accountability in PPPs. Our empirical analysis confirms in general this negative interpretation. The respondents share important concerns about how accountability works nowadays in practice. We therefore state that: the shift towards PPPs erodes the traditional notion of accountability; it entails new tools of accountability with a strong emphasis on performance; these tools, however, do not counterbalance the eroded traditional notion of accountability. Yet, they also share a remarkable optimism about the accountability potential of PPPs. With the necessary modifications (minor or major) a balance between the democratic, constitutional and performance functions of accountability can be found.
 
Conceptual framework for identifying administrative obstacles Source: Own figure.  
Organizational structure and administrative levels of the agencies involved in the CAP implementation
Guiding issues regarding the assessment of accountability Front offices $ Farmers Back offices $ Front offices
Guiding issues regarding the assessment of administrative capacity
Article
The introduction of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union was an important step for Bulgaria and Romania. However, their administrative capacity for managing CAP instruments is still evolving, and they face challenges in delivering services that are crucial for implementing the CAP measures. This article, based on semi-structured interviews among key actors, explores administrative obstacles. The analysis is structured according to the two complementary concepts of accountability and administrative capacity. The findings show that the main accountability problems are related to a complex administrative structure and to the large number of smallholders, which necessitates greater administrative efforts than in established member states. Moreover, due to a lack of representative farmers’ associations, farmers, and particularly small farmers, have no clear means to voice their concerns. The main problems concerning administrative capacity are related to deficient data collection and processing, over-centralized decision-making, and limited coordination among agencies. Points for practitioners To improve the delivery of services in new member states such as Bulgaria and Romania, the CAP should pay greater attention to the specific conditions of transition countries, such as their high share of smallholders. It should be determined whether some responsibilities could be devolved to lower administration levels, e.g. by decentralizing decision-making authorities. Moreover, integrated agricultural offices should be established to house front office agencies in the same buildings, a more comprehensive and tailored system of human resource management should be developed, and the outreach of farmers’ associations should be further advanced and facilitated.
 
Article
France’s decision to move to Accrual Based Accounting, triggered by the application of the Organic Law to the Finance Laws, has a tangible impact on political decision-making mechanisms. By adopting accounting and financial information standards derived from the private sector, it has the effect of reinforcing the economic rationality of public decisions. It makes it possible, in particular, to draw comparisons between public and private costs, comparisons that are necessary to set up any possible contract-based links with private suppliers. The move towards Accrual Based Accounting sets out to improve the information provided to the public operators. It also tends to limit the possibilities of arbitrations that are unfavourable to long-term investments and the maintenance of public assets. It gives parliaments, control bodies and citizens an appreciation of the policies being carried out, thus reinforcing the demands for the transparency of public accounts and the accountability of their managers. However, there is no getting away from the fact that it is a complex and costly reform, whose implementation requires a favourable political context and an appropriate implementation strategy.
 
Article
This article tries to describe Japanese npm (New Public Management) from two opposite poles: from the national legislative framework and from an experimental example in local government. Since the late 1990s, although npm was developed from Anglo-Saxon experiences, it has been implemented in Japan at the national level in a unique manner. The crisis in public finance, the urgent need for public sector reform and political instability led to two extreme options: self-reform by the bureaucracy itself; and citizen empowerment resulting inpressure on the bureaucracy. While the second one has been struggling to obtain public consensus, expertise for its practice and institutionalization, the first has resulted, to a certain extent, in the reorganization and restructuring of administrative institutions andin the establishment of both a legal framework and an operational system for measuring performance and evaluating policy.
 
Article
This special issue on water governance pays attention to the aspect of fragmentation and integration from an international point of view. We want to give insights into how different countries — the USA, South America and Europe — are dealing with fragmentation in water issues. This first contribution was partly an introduction on the theme of water governance and the fragmentation—integration public administration discussion, and partly gave case illustrations from the Netherlands (two delta areas) in showing how fragmentation and attempts at integration took place. These two cases illustrated that fragmentation is manifest and attempts at integration are alive, but are often not effective. On the one hand (southwestern delta) integration is sought for through centralization (top-down coordination) and creating one overall formal structure (through legislation), on the other hand (IJsseldelta-South) we saw that integration is difficult to manage leading to crowding out and fading out effects (from central, regional integration efforts to local integration efforts). Points for practitioners Water resources, especially fresh water, will become one of the scarcest resources for humans, societies and ecosystems. In several areas of the world this is already quite evident. A third of the world’s population lives in water-stressed countries. Water governance is also crucial in terms of water surplus. Almost all the deltas in the world will face flooding problems, and three-quarters of the world’s population live in deltas. The joint starting point for this symposium on Water Governance is the existing fragmentation of responsibilities in this field. Achieving cooperation and integration in such fragmented systems is a core problem in governance.
 
Article
PhD programmes in public administration (PA), although contributing to the development of the human side of the public sector and being responsible for the production of the producers of knowledge, are less investigated than other levels of education. Recent comparative research ascribes differences to the countries’ administrative cultures. The article aims at reviewing the ‘state of play’ of PA doctoral education in Italy, building on the hypothesis that differences in the nature, direction and intensity of change are also influenced by the different disciplinary approaches. The primary source of evidence is semi-structured interviews with the directors of 14 PhD programmes representing different disciplines, conducted from January to May 2010. Common challenges include the insufficient and unpredictable funding, the small scale problem, the pressure to internationalize and the lack of interdisciplinarity. The article argues that major differences exist among disciplines in terms of international openness and related strategies, relevance of curricula training and collaboration strategies. The survey provides a first evaluation of past reforms and raises some open issues: PhDs in PA are now characterized by more structured programmes that are held back by their small size; collaboration strategies are emerging although they are hindered by administrative burdens and autarchic behaviour. Points for practitioners The results have several policy and operational implications: they provide benchmark information to PA PhD directors on the state of the art of the strategies adopted to cope with current and future challenges. Having adopted the disciplinary rather than the country focus makes the conclusions potentially relevant also for other countries. Doctoral programmes (and doctorate holders) are increasingly considering the wider job market. For PhD programmes in PA this will require more attention to the public sector needs and the establishment of different forms of cooperation. On the other hand, in the public sector, attempts should be made to make the most of people holding doctoral degrees. Furthermore, as ‘the world of practice has crept into the inner sanctum of academia: doctoral research’ (Pollitt, 2006: 258), public managers attending PhD programmes (or willing to do so) may find interesting insights on the types and expected developments of doctoral education according to the different disciplines. Finally, the survey offers useful indications to policy-makers and public managers engaged in the reform of the higher education.
 
Article
This article endeavors to diagnose and critically assess some of the challenges Romanian public administration is confronted with and to discuss some of the reform efforts that have been made in order to cope with these challenges. The concept of administrative capacity is central to this analysis — the authors examine the practical implications of this concept and try to assess what could be done in order to increase the administrative capacity of local public administration and to complete the decentralization process. From a methodological standpoint, the article employs qualitative analysis. Secondary data analysis and document analysis (scientific papers and official documents such as laws, reports issued by the EU institutions) were used in order to justify some of the comments and assumptions made throughout the article. Points for practitioners The article highlights several of the reform efforts in the field of public administration undertaken recently by Romania. It points out that the process of decentralization is closely intertwined with the development of the administrative capacity of the territorial units. The authors argue in favor of seeking a balance between focus on internal reform and changing the relations between the public administration and society. One of the main conclusions is that although Romania has improved the legislation in the field of decentralization and local autonomy, there are still steps that need to be taken towards better implementation.
 
Article
In a world that is changing rapidly and constantly, public administration needs to be able to respond as rapidly and as effectively as possible to new challenges and priorities. The process of reinvention and revitalization requires vision, knowledge and capacity. The same qualities are required from the United Nations if they are to assist developing countries and countries with economies in transition effectively in their efforts to reform public administration. This article provides an historical excursus of how the conception of the role of the state has changed in the past decades and its impact on developing countries; how instrumental the United Nations was in re-establishing awareness of the role of public administration in development, and the significant preparatory work done in this area by the International Institute of Administrative Sciences (IIAS). The article also illustrates how the United Nations Programme in Public Administration has reinvented itself in order to help reinvent government and singles out some of the emerging challenges in the field of public administration.
 
Government effectiveness in East Central Europe
Government effectiveness: regional comparison Year Post-communist 29 a East Central Europe 10 Old EU-15
Article
This article examines the status of historical legacies in debates on the reform of public administration in East Central Europe. It identifies limitations of existing accounts and derives three dimensions for the further development of legacy explanations of administrative reform in East Central Europe. First, legacy arguments tend to zoom in on the negative effects of the communist past. Yet there is not one but many legacies that matter for post-communist reforms and these many legacies have to be carefully distinguished and conceptualized. Second, legacy explanations tend to search for broad similarities between the administrative past and the present set-up of East Central European administrations in order to demonstrate the importance of the legacy. The identification of similarities is, however, not sufficient for the identification of legacy effects. Instead, the article argues in favour of the identification of causal mechanisms of legacification to explain recent administrative developments in East Central Europe. Finally, the article draws attention to the interaction of legacy effects with other determinants of administrative reform such as European integration and political parties. Points for practitioners This article addresses primarily policy-makers who deal with the reform of public administration in Central and Eastern Europe. It addresses the issue of how administrative traditions and, generally, historical legacies affect the design of administrative reforms and the successful implementation of reforms. Conventional wisdom concentrates on the negative effects of the communist-type administration on contemporary reform in Central and Eastern Europe. This article advances a more differentiated perspective on the impact of historical legacies. It argues that communist administrations evolved over time and differed considerably across countries. The administrative experience of other historical periods further interacts with the communist legacy of the past. The article also identifies various mechanisms that help to ‘transport’ the legacy of the past into the contemporary administrative reform context. For administrative policy-makers this approach implies that they cannot take for granted that the effect of the communist legacy is identical across countries and they cannot even assume that the communist administration will be long-lasting after transition. Instead, it is recommended that the specifics of local administrative traditions and the kind of mechanisms that produce legacy effects in the context of contemporary reform efforts be examined more closely.
 
Article
The objectives of this article are to (1) define the contributions of the Comparative Public Administration to knowledge of governance, management of public services, and national development; (2) assess the relevance of these contributions to the African experience; (3) examine how comparative research, despite certain limitations, had steered public administration out of its ethnocentric and provincial mode of analysis into a wider global horizon of search and discovery; and (4) examine the relevance of development administration concepts to practice in Africa, particularly during the formative phase of post-colonial experience. The article offers suggestions for change strategies. Points for practitioners Comparing public administration practices of a country with those of other countries, with past performance, or with benchmarks is vital for administrative improvement and for developing reform strategies. Administrative knowledge, derived through cross-cultural comparative analysis, provides a broader horizon for the practitioner of management and better understanding of the larger context of governance. Also, comparison provides the practitioner with significant insights into policies and actions that work and those that do not work at the local, national, and global levels.
 
Overview of data sources on public opinion towards the public administration 
Article
The public administration and public services have always taken a marginal place in the political scientists’ behavioural research. Public administration students on the other hand tend to focus on political and administrative elites and institutions, and largely ignored citizens in comparative research. In this article we make a plea for international comparative research on citizens’ attitudes towards the public administration from an interdisciplinary perspective. Available international survey material is discussed, and main trends in empirical practice and theoretical approaches are outlined, especially those with a potential impact on public sector reform.
 
Article
Background Situations of extreme information deficit regarding administrative behavior are rare, but such conditions persist for the most enigmatic and troubling nations, such as North Korea. How might the behavior of public administrators be explained when systematic observation of individual administrators or institutions’ parties is not feasible? Aim Finding a way to estimate administrative behavior based upon the information available is an important task in understanding the complexities of closed states’ behavior in the international arena. Method We use constitutional analysis to explain public administration in North Korea, arguing that this is the best available method to explain administrative norms and behavior in this and other closed nations. Results We find that while administrative theorists predict that administrative norms can be predicted using constitutional analysis, administrative behavior in closed nations cannot be efficiently predicted using only a reconstructed set of norms as we do not have evidence to confirm that the suppositions of normative theorists hold in these conditions. Conclusions While we can better understand the values of administrators in North Korea through constitutional analysis, without harder evidence we can only speculate on the true values of administrators in North Korea. Points for practitioners Administrators working on cross-national issues with closed states like North Korea should familiarize themselves with the values of the states’ constitution, as this may be a stable source of preliminary norms for predicting administrators’ behavior.
 
Article
Modern public administration was introduced in Korea more than half a century ago. Over the past several decades, Korea has achieved substantial economic growth as well as the significant development of a public administration system. How, and in what way, has Korean public administration as a discipline grown rapidly? This article reviews the multiple dimensions of Korean public administration: the development of public administration as a new discipline, public administration education as a new channel of management knowledge, the development of professional associations and research institutes as a promoter of research and activities, and international cooperation as a development tool and a window of opportunity. After that, prospects based on an indigenization debate and concluding remarks will follow. Points for practitioners Public administration played a significant role in the development of South Korea. Korean public administration programs during the developmental process fostered a new class of civil servants and public management of the government. However, post-war Korean public administration has faced a problem of indigenization as it becomes more influenced by the Western world while attempting to hold on to traditional Confucian values. Thus, Korea needs to cope with such challenges creatively as it moves forward independently from its past.
 
Article
The financial crisis of 1997 has led to a reassessment of the role of the Korean public sector and its management policies. The public sector reforms under the Kim Dae-jung government (1998-2003) were part of a broader movement toward a more market-oriented economy and lower government debt. One of the core programs of the Korean public sector reform has been the restructuring of budgetary and financial management systems. This article shows that budgetary and financial management reforms during the Kim Dae-jung administration were mostly limited to an emphasis on improving technical efficiency in the delivery of public services through the adoption of market-type mechanisms and several minor improvements in the arrangements for flexible financial management.
 
Seniority of Danish permanent secretaries 1950, 1979 and 2009 (years)
Article
In this article we are interested in how the coordinating role of top civil servants is related to the argument that country-level differences in the adoption of New Public Management significantly alter the Public Service Bargains of top civil servants and consequently their capacity to accomplish interdepartmental coordination. A managerial PSB limits top civil servants’ role in interdepartmental coordination, as their focus will be on achieving goals set for their specific departments, rather than for the central government as a collective. We test our argument with empirical insights from a comparative analysis of five countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. We find that our argument is only partly valid and discuss the theoretical and empirical implications of the analysis. Points for practitioners Alongside the introduction of New Public Management, the relationships between ministers and their top civil servants in state administration have evolved. At the same time, societal issues are getting more complex and demand a holistic, cross-sector approach. The concept of a managerial Public Service Bargain is used to analyze changes in top civil servants’ role and the impact of reforms on the capacity of top civil servants to accomplish interdepartmental coordination. Practitioners can learn more about the close link between challenges for interdepartmental coordination and changes in the role and functioning of top civil servants.
 
Article
This article tries to depict China’s public administration reform as an interactive process between two major themes, domestic reform and global integration. The development and implementation of public administration reforms in China from 1978 to 2008 are reviewed. The driving forces shaping the process of public administration reform in China are analyzed, using a territorial locus (domestic/international) – policy dimension (supply-side/demand-side) analytical framework. Our analysis suggests that the public administration reforms over the past few decades have demonstrated the Chinese government’s intention to advance the government’s transition from an economic-centered state to a people-oriented one. While much progress has been made, there are many issues that remain to be resolved by the new generation of leadership in China. Points for practitioners This article aims to contribute to the discussion about the process of China’s public administration reform over the past three decades since late 1978 – the reform-and-open up years. In China’s public administration reform, the transition of the economic system from a planned economy to a socialist market economy has become the most important driving force, which is coupled with the transformation from a public administration system based on personal will and charisma to one that is increasingly based on rule of law. At the same time, the influence of other countries has also played an important role in today’s globalized environment. China has learned a great deal from international experiences in public administration reform. The entry into the WTO has also provided a strong impetus for China to integrate with global public administrative practice. So, China’s public administration system has always actively engaged in a transformative process characterized by domestic reform and global integration.
 
Typology of the federal non-ministerial administration
Four basic types of inter-organizational change
Types of structural change (direct and indirect agencies, 1990-2008)
Autonomy, 'red tape' and ministry-agency relations by legal category (ANOVA, p < 0.05)
Article
Although Germany does not figure among the ‘forerunners’ of managerial reforms of the public sector, it has a long tradition of agencies and non-departmental bodies at the federal level. Over time, the federal administration has developed into a highly differentiated ‘administrative zoo’ with a large number of species, questioning the image of a well-ordered German bureaucracy. The article addresses organizational changes among non-ministerial agencies during the past 20 years and ministry—agency relations, drawing on data from a comprehensive survey of the federal administration. The structural changes we observe are neither comprehensive nor planned; they are much more evolutionary than revolutionary, driven by sectoral policies and not by any overall agency policy, supported more by regulatory than by managerial reforms, and most of the changes are horizontal mergers or successions of existing organizations, while we find almost no evidence for hiving-off from ministries to agencies. At the same time, federal agencies report a lot of bureaucratic discretion, whereas they perceive substantial levels of ‘red tape’ due to administrative regulations. We also find that traditional, hierarchical modes of ministerial oversight are still dominating; only few agencies have performance agreements with measurable goals. Points for practitioners The article will be of interest to practitioners concerned about the nature and direction of organizational change within government, especially about processes of horizontal and vertical differentiation and steering. It demonstrates that even in a highly developed and classical bureaucratic administrative system such as Germany there is and has for a long time been a large variety of governmental agencies that enjoy a considerable amount of autonomy. At the same time there is continuous change and adaptation to new circumstances, even though all this has very little to do with international modernization trends such as New Public Management or comprehensive agencification.
 
Citizens' participation to the drafting of local regulations
Issues that triggered participation Issues No. of public authorities with public meetings No. of public authorities with local council meetings
Aspects included in the self-evaluation report Aspects included in the self-evaluation report No. of local authorities
Article
The article discusses the concept of procedural administrative transparency and aims to investigate the extent to which the legal provisions of Law no. 52/2003 on transparency in decision-making are actually implemented by the local administrations from the rural communities in the Transylvania region, Romania. The main research questions are: Where are the weaknesses in the implementation of Law no. 52/2003 in the rural settings in Romania? Why do they occur? What could be changed to alleviate these weaknesses? Based on a mixed method approach – surveys followed by direct observation and informal interviews – we determined that the implementation of procedural transparency requirements is low and in many cases local public authorities comply only ‘for the record’ with the provisions of the law. The main challenge with regard to implementation is the existence of universal provisions for all local public authorities, irrespective of their administrative capacity, existing cultural and social characteristics of public participation and communication in rural communities as well as the relationship between central and local tiers of the government. In conclusion, the authors argue that the implementation level of these requirements could be enhanced by their inclusion in a general procedural administrative law. Points for practitioners Very often, countries from Eastern Europe adopt state-of-the-art legislation which is then difficult to implement due to factors such as limited administrative capacity at the local level coupled with differences between urban and rural areas, resistance to change within the bureaucratic machinery, passiveness on behalf of the citizens, etc. In 2003, Romania adopted the law on transparency in the decision-making process of public authorities in an attempt to create a more open, transparent, accountable, and predictable government. Since its adoption, studies conducted by NGOs have proved that the implementation level is relatively low. This research assesses how the legal provisions of Law no. 52/2003 are implemented in the rural areas of Transylvania, one of the most significant regions of the country from an economic and cultural standpoint. Based on their findings, the authors argue that implementation in rural areas could be enhanced provided that local authorities are given more discretion with regard to how to implement certain provisions (flexibility in the choice of policy tools); and more discretion should be complemented by increased sanctions for non-compliance and their enforcement. These two goals can be achieved by including the procedural transparency requirements in a general administrative procedure law/administrative code.
 
Article
The Kinnock reform has changed the European Commission. This article discusses the link between reform effects and policy output. A survey of more than 100 heads of unit (HoU) of policy-making Directorates-General serves as the empirical basis. It is concluded that the recent reform of the Commission does indeed comprehensively redefine the role of the HoU. Their resource base to focus on policy drafting has been hugely reduced. Negative consequences for the organization’s potential to deliver policy draft of high quality are therefore very likely. Points for practitioners This article deals with the following areas: • Middle management as organizational backbone • The perils of decentralizing management functions • The impact of administrative reform on policy output.
 
Italian ministerial cabinets: size and composition (2011) Ministry Heads of unit External experts Senior civil servants Total size 
Article
The article explores the transformations which have occurred in ministerial cabinets as entrenched advisory structures in the Italian executive since the early 1990s when the party system collapsed and a permanent cycle of public management reforms was introduced. It examines how ministerial advisers have acquired a greater role in executive coordination filling the void of governing capacity left by the failed institutionalization of the new party system. In doing so, the empirical analysis identifies the constellation of actors that reproduced ministerial cabinets as a legacy of the past in the present set-up of the Italian system, eventually hindering the innovation of governance structures according to international standards. Points for practitioners This article seeks to contribute to the literature on the development of ministerial staff as a key manifestation of increasing public service politicization. With its more nuanced type of legacy explanation, focused on the identification of causal mechanisms that link institutional arrangements and actor choices in reform processes, the article can also contribute to general debates on the role of time in public management. It also recommends an integrated focus on the different policies of civil service reform in order to map interrelations of administrative changes.
 
Article
This article examines administrative reforms in Turkey, highlighting its domestic and international explanations and outcomes. First, it briefly reviews the fundamental administrative reforms implemented in the early republican and following periods. Thereafter, some proponents of reforms and their outcomes are analysed with influencing actors. Then, the national or international actors that influenced current reforms and their relative impacts are discussed. The article argues that administrative reforms in Turkey are an appropriate example of policy transfer because reform policies are mainly encouraged by external actors such as the EU, the IMF, and the World Bank. However, the role of internal actors such as governments, business circles and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should not be ignored. Moreover, it can be asserted that the reform process is significantly affected by conflicts of interest among internal actors. Although the Turkish case could be considered an appropriate transfer practice of new public management (NPM) in terms of formal regulations, a thorough examination of their outcomes and challenges reveals that it is time to substitute the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach with ‘different sizes for everyone’. Points for practitioners Because every reform attempt derives mainly from political motives, administrative reform cannot be considered a solely technical or operational process. Hence, it not only directly or indirectly has an impact on all aspects of social life, but it is also affected by the historical, political, economic and cultural past of the relevant country. Practitioners should be aware of this and should take into consideration a set of societal factors apart from the purely administrative techniques, if they want to avoid failure, and to achieve efficiency.
 
Article
This special issue originated with two workshops held by the Comparative Public Administration Working Group (Groupe Science politique comparée des administrations-SPCA) of the French Political Science Association (AFSP) in April and September 2008. Our workshops focused on a rather under-researched dimension of comparative public administration: namely administrative mergers and bureaucratic reorganizations as a dimension of contemporary reforms. We started from the observation that, in recent years, there has been a rich literature on the role of agencies and other forms of organizational decentralization, but much less on organizational and professional mergers within public administrations. Participants were invited to address a set of linked questions designed to try and elucidate the nature and scope of administrative reorganizations in the European countries under observation. Among these questions were the following: under which conditions and to what extent do mergers and other forms of administrative reorganization have sustainable effects on the state apparatus? How does the multi-level structure of government, especially within federal states (Germany, Belgium), regionalized (Spain) or ‘dual’ states (United Kingdom) influence administrative reforms? What policy narratives are mobilized to justify and legitimize these reorganizations, and especially how important is the discourse of New Public Management (NPM) in that respect? Finally, what are the consequences of such reforms on civil servants’ careers, professional identities and administrative cultures? The issue brings together a range of country-specific articles whose remit is, broadly, to address these questions and to contribute to enriching the comparative and empirically rooted reflection about the dimensions and forms of state reforms in the NPM era.
 
Article
Government restructuring has been discussed extensively in Taiwan for more than three decades, and the first NPM-style administrative reform programme, which emphasizes ‘a leaner and businesslike government’, was launched in 1996. Since then, NPM has been the key guideline producing a strong path-dependence effect for subsequent administrative reform programmes in Taiwan. This article examines the trajectory of administrative reform in Taiwan from 1949 to 2010, the latter being the year when the Organizational Act of the Executive Yuan was passed, which symbolically represents the end of the current phase of administrative reform. Similar to many Asian countries, exogenous and endogenous factors have induced efforts at administrative reform in Taiwan. Although it is argued that it is difficult to generate any common path of administrative reform among Asian countries, the analysis of the case in Taiwan may provide some observations for future discussions on this topic, such as evidence of political manipulation, the transformation of the role of the state, the desire for an indigenous reform strategy, and the demand to revitalize the civil service system. Points for practitioners 1. Administrative reform is a political process, and pubic servants have to deal with value conflicts carefully. 2. Professionalism and political neutrality are the two most important things in the administrative reform process. 3. Public servants can have a critical role in the administrative reform process when the critical juncture appears, but democratic values and public purposes should be the cornerstone for the bureaucrats in action.
 
The pattern of political signals on the most salient policy issue (in percent)
Article
In this article we describe the influence of Norwegian executive political and administrative leaders on salient policy issues, based on a structural, a cultural-institutional and an exposure perspective. The data used are taken from a broad survey of élites conducted in 2000, focusing on undersecretaries of state, secretary generals and director generals in the ministries. The analysis reveals that political and administrative leaders are regarded as the most influential actors on salient policy issues. They are engaged in extensive and intensive inter-and intra-organizational contact networks. Their influence varies according to a political–administrative contact pattern, internal administrative structure and external media exposure.
 
Article
This article is an overview of shifting political—administrative relationships in South Africa, with particular reference to growing politicization (partisan control of the bureaucracy). Studies of politicization of public services are important because political involvement in management has often led to negative effects on service delivery. The article sets out a theoretical framework for political—administrative relationships, examining the growing politicization of public services, the impact of New Public Management (NPM) and political—administrative relationships in developing countries. It then looks at political—administrative relationships in South Africa, including the apartheid history, the development of a new framework in the democratic South Africa and politicization in the staffing of the public service. It examines three functional areas — the decentralization of powers, contract appointments and performance management — and discusses the implications of this changing framework for service delivery. The methodology consisted of interviews with a number of senior government officials, including three current directors-general and a former Minister for the Public Service and Administration, an analysis of government legislation, Public Service Commission (PSC) data including surveys, unpublished data of the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), policy papers of the African National Congress (ANC) and an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study of political involvement in bureaucracies. The article concludes that growing politicization of the public service has contributed to poor service delivery, and that the South African government needs to place greater emphasis on merit as the basis for appointments and promotions. Points for practitioners This article is useful for professionals working in public management and administration because it looks at the following debates and issues, which have practical implications: frameworks for understanding political—administrative relationships in the public service; the impact of the politicization of staff in the public service; and how merit-based appointment can improve government effectiveness. The article also offers lessons to developing countries wishing to create more professional public services.
 
Article
Emerging from two major wars (1996—97 and 1998—2002), the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of Africa’s most notoriously failed states. Since President Joseph Kabila came to power in 2001, the international community has invested significantly in efforts to rebuild the Congo. State-building efforts, however, have not achieved the expected results. International partners and the Congolese authorities share responsibility for failing to bring about genuine political change and institutional reconstruction. The former have underestimated the complexities of Congolese political culture while the latter deliberately hamper reform. Administrative weaknesses and the particular nature of public service provision in Congo constitute overwhelming obstacles to state-building. After presenting the different logics that motivate state-building and an overview of recent political history, the Congolese administrative reality will be discussed. Analysis will follow, revealing that implementing meaningful reform under the current framework is improbable. Points for practitioners This article is useful for professionals working in public management and administration because it offers arguments concerning: the importance of taking into account political culture for improved aid efficiency; the dangers of importing state-building ‘templates’ and standardized post-conflict reconstruction peace kits; the role played by national administrations in state-building and reform; the capacity of disillusioned public servants to hamper state-building and reform; lessons to be drawn from the DRC state-building and reform package for similar initiatives in other post-conflict and failed states.
 
Top-cited authors
Albert Meijer
  • Utrecht University
Tony Bovaird
  • University of Birmingham
Manuel Pedro Rodríguez Bolívar
Geert Bouckaert
Steven Van de Walle