Post updated on 31st Oct 2023
Theory and Practice of Modern Public Administration
A Digitized Government Model
The world today is very competitive and demanding. Society is better informed and expects more public organizations as well as private organizations. Public processes and institutions’ traditional products are less suited to the needs of individuals. Globalization, widespread use communication and information technologies, and the emergence of the knowledge society, among others, are rapidly changing the world order. This has created new challenges for the States, expectations of individuals with regard to public authorities having increased, applicants more demanding in terms of job content, and companies advocating more investments in education, health, and the community, but unwilling to pay more taxes (OECD, 2005).
The personnel management systems adapt less well to these new challenges. Indeed, the traditional practices of public administration were born from different contexts in which the priorities were different. Now governments play a new role in society and take on new responsibilities but generally lack the tools necessary to manage them constructively. Public managers are expected to improve their performance by focusing on efficiency, effectiveness, and good administration, which weren’t among the priorities 50 years ago. Therefore, to be able to adapt to an environment in transition, the public sector must transform its structures, processes, procedures, and especially its culture (Bertot, Estevez and Janowski, 2016).
The introduction of change in the public sector is very controversial and complex because it affects, directly or indirectly, the interests and lifestyles of members of the society. Public and private organizations cannot economize on change if they want to survive in an increasingly globalized, highly interdependent, and rapid evolution. The purpose of this section is to explore the concepts of reform and change, examine the sources of change, define what change management is, and demonstrate the importance it has in the context of public service.
The concepts of change and reform Change and reform are two concepts commonly used in discourse political and intellectual. In politics, for example, policymaking is described as a change-oriented activity intended to transform, modify, or review the status quo (Christensen and Laegreid, 2007). The notions of change and reform are usually used interchangeably, which is not however not necessarily always judicious. Reform is just one of many ways to produce change; it corresponds to a particular method of solving problems. Sometimes the slightest reform leads to changes in organizations, in other cases, some reforms result in little or no change.
If the change in the form of a transformation or modification may or may not be a voluntary phenomenon. Reform is a structured and deliberate process of producing the change, whatever its magnitude. Reforms can affect policy areas, economic, social, and administrative and integrate reflections on problems and solutions (Driscoll and Morris, 2001). Butler (2003), on the other hand, argues that the change is historic, contextual, and procedural.
Two interesting aspects of this conceptualization of change must be highlighted. The first is that change can be presented as a process that describes the way things change over time. Pettigrew (2007) defines this process as a series of individual and collective events, actions, and activities that take place gradually in context. The second aspect is that change is dependent on the context. In this sense, context and action are linked. According to Brunsson (2006), the existence of problems, a wide range of solutions, and forgetfulness are the elements necessary for the implementation of reforms. The perception of present problems and future of an organization, whether public or private, encourages the implementation of changes.
For example, the gap between what an organization is supposed to provide and the reality may trigger the need for reform. Sometimes reforms have consequences that justify the adoption of new reform measures. Reforms require also a good stock of potential solutions to present or future problems, which are sometimes strongly dependent on intellectual and/or practical modes of resolution of problems. Brunsson (2006) points out that fashion can reduce or increase the diversity of solutions because it limits the number of acceptable solutions.
In the late 80s and early 1990s, for example, New Public Management (NGP) was seen as the success of the moment in published work on public management (Pollitt and Bouckaert, 2004). It has helped to generalize the use of a user, delegation and individualization. Which is supposed to lend itself best to the modernization of public service management. The current success story right now is the government-wide approach (OECD, 2005; Christiensen and Laegreid, 2007). Which proposes a more horizontal and not only vertical in order to remedy the disadvantages of NGP. Reforms can also be a repetition of somewhat reworked old reforms. Public administration and IT In an organization, information technology plays a very important role in terms of returns and increased market share. However, there is no guarantee that information technology alone can bring returns to the organization (Laudon & Laudon 2015).
This is due to the fact that there is an important role that is played by assets social assets, managerial assets, and organizational assets. All these assets help in optimization from information technology investments. Below are some of the aspects that play the part in making the company optimize the returns from the information technology investment when combined with social, managerial, and organizational assets. The first aspect is that favorable assets of the organization are a supportive culture of business where efficiency and effectiveness are valued. Inefficient business processes, there is a decentralization of authority, high distribution of rights, and a strong team of information system development.
Organization assets play a very important role in the organization since they help in sharing the information from one department to another in the organization (Laudon & Laudon 2015). When there is an organizational environment that is favorable, each department and level in the organization contributes its operation chain part. This means that there is the availability of ready information to operations in the downstream as well as operations in the upstream. A good example is a supply chain system that is well implemented and used. The second aspect is the managerial asset. Managerial assets refer to managers’ collective abilities in an organization. When senior management is strong, it offers support for change in the organization. It also offers support to incentive systems that follow up, monitor, and rewarding those who have been innovative in the organization (Laudon & Laudon 2015).
It also encourages collaboration and team works, training of employees, and encouraging a management culture where knowledge and flexibility are valued. The managerial asset is considered a key factor of success in the organization. The senior managers should the ones who are supposed to play part in the introduction and utilization of the information technology in the organization. A good example is the enterprise resource planning systems (ERP) such as SAP and PeopleSoft. There would be a better outcome on the introduction of new technologies if there is a senior management team is strong. A team that offers support on changes in the organization. Also, it is the responsibility of the senior management to make sure that everyone in the organization is computer literate. This is done by ensuring that every employee in the organization receives basic computer training.
The third aspect is the social asset and it includes the internet and the telecommunication infrastructure. It includes educational programs with the aim of increasing computer literacy. When it comes to business success, the internet plays a very important role (Sheung 2014). It is the fast way in which a business connects with customers and clients. Some of the uses of the internet in the business are online marketing and advertisement, e-commerce. It enhances the relationship between the organization and the customers. In this era of the internet, it has become easier and cheap to promote a product and a service.
It is cheaper to advertise a product on social media channels compared to traditional channels such as television. In addition, the chances of advert reaching the target audience are very high since there are a lot of internet users. Secondly, companies are able to sell their products online through e-commerce sites. This has been made possible by the availability of the internet (Sheung 2014). Customers just search for a product they want on the company’s site. They want to make an order, and then the product is delivered to the customer.
The Internet is also a good platform to communicate with customers. Moreover, customers’ feedback is used to improve customer service as well as the product itself. There must be telecommunication infrastructure in order to have internet connectivity. These include computers, cables and the source of the internet. The second one making sure that the labor force is computer literate. This is through training programs in the organization. There are benefits that are associated with having a computer literate labor force in the Public Administration organization. These benefits are; most of the work in the organization requires computer knowledge (Sheung 2014). These activities include typing and data as well as researching and communicating with clients and customers online. The second benefit of productivity. Computer literate employees are usually productive compared to computer illiterate employees.
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Bertot, J., Estevez, E.& Janowski, T. (2016).Universal and contextualized public services: Digital public service innovation framework: Elsevier
Christensen, T. et P. Laegreid (2007), « The Whole-of-Government Approach to Public Sector Reform », Public Administration Review, November December, Vol. 6, 6 edition, Blackwell Publishing Ltd,
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Driscoll A. et J. Morris (2001), « Stepping out: Rhetorical Devices and Culture Change Management in the
UK Civil Service », Public Administration, Vol. 79, No.4, pp. 803 – 824.
Laudon, K. C., & Laudon, J. P. (2015). Management information systems (p. 143). Upper Saddle River: Pearson.
Sheung, C. T. (2014). E-Business; The New Strategies And Business Ethics, that Leads Organizations to Success. Global Journal of Management and Business Research.