In the course of New Public Management reforms and the privatization of public services, public employment regimes are undergoing a substantial realignment. Findings from the first phase of our project indicate that although there is a general convergence in approaches to public service provision among OECD countries, the extent of changes in public employment regimes varies according to both country specific institutional frameworks and to traditions of public administration and type of service. Whereas some countries still favor a distinct public servant model, other countries have restructured their public employment regimes according to NPM ideals with a focus on private sector management practices. Moreover, Western public employment regimes that were once rather uniform and standardized have become more diverse, losing capacity to serve as a role model for national labor markets. The sustainability of these changes will depend on the extent to which public employees and their representatives accept and support them.
So far, very little is known about public employees' views on the realignment of their employment conditions. This is where the second and final phase of our project (2011-2014) sets its main focus. We will continue the sector/country comparison—police, waste collection and energy regulatory agencies in Germany, France, Sweden and the UK—but shift perspectives. From the top-down analysis of macro level developments in the first phase, we turn to a bottom-up approach in the second. Based on surveys and case studies, we will examine public employees' self conceptions and professional models, as well as concepts of collective action, and seek to answer the following questions: How has the realignment of employment regimes affected the professional expectations, attitudes and values of public employees? Do employees see themselves as market-oriented service providers, or as servants of the public good? In what ways have traditionally strong unions responded to realignment? Do they view changing working conditions and employer interests as serious challenges? What actions do they pursue on the part of their members, and how are they interacting with employers’ associations?
The final results of the project will shed light on the extent to which public employees still reflect an institutionally, normatively, and socially distinct category of employees.
Final report 2015 in German
List of publications
Project application 2011-2014 in German
Project application 2008-2010 in German