Decentralisation and accountability as a focus of public administration modernisation: Challenges and consequences for human resource management

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Publication Date 2006
ISBN 978-90-6779-201-1
Content Type ,

Decentralisation of authority/responsibility and an increase in management autonomy to improve performance and to better adapt public services to local needs have been main themes of public administration modernisation in many countries throughout the last two decades. Higher individual motivation and performance are often used as arguments. Especially regarding HRM practices, many European countries seem to be pursuing strategies to replace highly centralised HRM systems and policies by more decentralised HRM environments, where decisions are made closer to the point of delivery, and, thus, to provide senior officials and line managers with greater discretion and responsibility.

This publication by Christoph Demmke, Gerhard Hammerschmid and Renate Meyer analyses the extent to which HRM competencies and authority have been passed down to lower levels of management in European countries and in what way various actors such as government-wide HRM units, line ministers, HRM units within ministries, senior administrative levels, line management and employee representatives are involved in decision making on HRM practices. Is there a common European modernisation agenda and a general obsolescence of traditional hierarchical, centrally organised HRM policies due to an increasing devolution of powers to lower levels of public administration or semi-autonomous bodies (agencies etc.)? How do European public administrations and governments find an appropriate balance between the simultaneous demands of decentralising responsibilities and satisfying central coordination and control requirements?

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