Despite the original intent of civil service reform as set forth in the Pendleton Act of 1883, some states have implemented reforms that drastically alter the HR function as envisioned by early policymakers. The State of Florida offers an example of such reforms. This paper reports a study of how selected state employees perceive and interpret the outcome of Florida’s 2001 civil service reform and privatized HR administrative processes. Respondents give mixed reports on the civil service reform but uniformly report that it has become more difficult to manage the HR function since it was outsourced.
Source: Barry Bozeman, Public Administration Review, Volume 70, Issue 4, July/August 2010
From the abstract:
Does the public administration research from the late 1970s and 1980s on managing decline contain useful lessons for today’s Great Recession? Do these studies serve our current research needs? Why has decline continued to be a major focus of research in generic management, but not in public administration? The answers to these questions give some clues as to a possible new, revitalized research agenda for our field. Whereas public administration often viewed organizational decline as a self-contained set of problems requiring remedial action, generic management and sociology research on decline tended to view the topic as part of organizational phases and life cycles, linking decline to growth, stability, and change. Viewing decline as part of the organizational life cycle encourages researchers to take a longer view of organizations and their management, and thus its orientation is more strategic than reactive. Three areas of decline studies are identified as relevant irrespective of sector: (1) implications of decline for human resources management, (2) effects of decline on organization structure and design, (3) the relation of strategy and decline.
Source: Alison F. Reif and Lisa M. Gaulin, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 36 no. 1, Summer 2010
In this article, the authors provide a basic checklist of best practices for companies planning a reduction in force.
Source: Kaifeng Yang and Anthony Kassekert, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Volume 20, Number 2, April 2010
From the abstract:
Recent public management literature has emphasized the influence of public sector characteristics on employee attitudes, behaviors, and performance. This article assesses how recent management reforms, such as contracting out, civil service overhaul (also known as Title 5 exemptions or removal of civil service protections), and managing for results are associated with employee job satisfaction in the federal government. Using the Federal Human Capital Survey 2006 dataset, this article finds that contracting out and Title 5 exemption are negatively related to job satisfaction. Managing for results, operationalized as perceived performance orientation and innovative culture, is positively related to job satisfaction, but the relationship is moderated by employees’ trust in leadership and their perceptions of the effectiveness and fairness of performance appraisal.
Source: Rosemary O’Leary, Public Administration Review, Vol. 70 no. 1, January-February 2010
From the abstract:
“Guerrilla government” is Rosemary O’Leary’s term for the actions of career public servants who work against the wishes–either implicitly or explicitly communicated–of their superiors. This form of dissent is usually carried out by those who are dissatisfied with the actions of public organizations, programs, or people, but typically, for strategic reasons, choose not to go public with their concerns in whole or in part. Rather than acting openly, guerrillas often move clandestinely behind the scenes, salmon swimming against the current of power. Guerrillas run the spectrum from anti-establishment liberals to fundamentalist conservatives, from constructive contributors to deviant destroyers.
Three public managers with significant experience comment on O’Leary’s thesis that guerrilla government is about the power of career bureaucrats; the tensions between career bureaucrats and political appointees; organization culture; and what it means to act responsibly, ethically, and with integrity as a public servant. Karl Sleight, former director of the New York State Ethics Commission; David Warm, executive director of the Mid-America Regional Council of Greater Kansas City; and Ralph R. Bauer, former deputy regional administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the Seattle and Chicago regions, present unique perspectives on the “guerrilla” influence on policy and management, as well as the challenges posed by this ever-present public management phenomenon.
Guerrilla: One who engages in irregular warfare especially as a member of an independent unit.
From a summary:
Many employees report employers are increasingly using threats and intimidation tactics to cope with the financial crisis, according to a national study of leadership sponsored by the University of Phoenix Office of Research Support (ORS). “We’re told if we discussed layoffs or downsizing, we would be fired – immediately,” one worker said. Another individual observed, “Questions get you written up and/or fired.”
Belligerent behavior is a “disturbing leadership trend in the financial crisis,” according to researchers Dr. Ruby Rouse and Dr. Richard Schuttler (2009), who received a grant to study supervisor communication during the crisis. In the summer of 2009, 1,150 working adults in the United States evaluated the leadership and communication effectiveness of their supervisors. Open-ended comments from employees contained repeated descriptions of threatening communication, such as:
* “Be thankful you have a job.”
* “You can be replaced.”
* “There are lots of qualified people on the street who would love your job.”
* “You never know who will be gone tomorrow.”
Source: Tristin Green, Emory Law Journal, 2009
From the abstract:
This Article provides the first extended analysis of the conscious use of race and sex in decisions organizing work. It takes the position that race and sex are being used in organizing work-in assigning clients and job tasks, in composing work teams, in staffing committees and outreach groups-and that they are being used pursuant to a “diversity” narrative in ways that are likely to entrench workplace inequality. At the same time, it argues that race and sex could be used in those same decisions to reduce workplace discrimination and to further equality in work. Drawing on a rich body of research in sociology, social psychology, and organizational theory, the Article exposes the risks and possibilities of race and sex in organizing work by focusing on the role that social interactions play in producing and reproducing disadvantage and on the role of organizational and institutional structures in shaping those interactions.
Based on this empirical foundation and on the Supreme Court case law governing the use of race and sex in employment decisions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Article advances a comprehensive approach to the permissibility of race and sex in decisions organizing work. It argues that Title VII permits the use of race and sex in decisions organizing work to serve the goal of reducing employment discrimination, provided that individual race- and sex-based decisions are part of an employer’s systemic integrative effort. This approach recognizes that decisions organizing work differ from decisions at moments of entry, promotion, and exit in ways that matter to an anti discrimination analysis. They are “softer” in that their benefits and harms are not always immediately discernible, and they can impose costs as well as benefits on women and people of color, even when they are intended to (and do) further anti discrimination goals. The approach to Title VII developed in this Article accounts for these differences and offers a unique opportunity to harness the existing business case for diversity to progress meaningful integration in work and to foster reduced workplace discrimination.
Source: Robert D. Herman, Public Administration Review, Volume 69 Issue 3, May/June 2009
From the abstract:
Public service nonprofit organizations have long been “partners” in the delivery of public services. Such nonprofit organizations are governed by boards, typically composed of citizen volunteers, that are expected to meet substantial standards of accountability and performance. Previous research has raised questions about how well such boards are meeting their responsibilities. A 2007 Urban Institute study, based on the first large representative sample of U.S. public benefit nonprofits, provides important evidence about the extent to which nonprofit boards are meeting certain accountability and performance standards.
From the abstract:
How are senior government executives who attempt to execute an ambitious vision requiring significant strategic change in their organizations able to succeed? How do they go about formulating a strategy in the first place? What managerial and leadership techniques do they use to execute their strategy? In this paper, these questions are examined by comparing (so as to avoid the pitfalls of “best practices” research) management and leadership behaviors of a group of agency leaders from the Clinton and Bush administrations identified by independent experts as having been successful at executing an ambitious strategy with a control group consisting of those the experts identified as having tried but failed at significant strategic change, along with counterparts to the successes, who had the same position as they in a different administration. We find a number of differentiators (such as using strategic planning, monitoring performance metrics, reorganizing, and having a smaller number of goals), while other techniques either were not commonly used or failed to differentiate (such as establishing accountability systems or appeals to public service motivation). We find that agencies that the successes led had significantly lower percentages of political appointees than the average agency in the government. One important finding is that failures seem to have used techniques recommended specifically for managing transformation or change as frequently as successes did, so use of such techniques does not differentiate successes from failures. However, failures (and counterparts) used techniques associated with improving general organizational performance less than successes.
There’s a lot that government does right. The private sector ought to take a few notes.
If there is a bright side to this economic meltdown, hopefully it’s that people gain a new appreciation of what it’s like to manage government.
Here’s what government can teach businesses about their operations:
1. How to have a true appreciation for — and be good stewards of — investors’ money.
2. True accountability.
3. It’s not about the money.