Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Public Systems Management : Concept , Nature , Scope And Characteristics.

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The Contemporary Global Developments in the world's socio - economic arena is undergoing a huge change courtesy Liberalisation-Privatisation-Globalisation and Public Administration inevitably has to reflect this change along with the State's role change.

Public Administrators are expected to be more entrepreneurial, risk taking and managerial in their approach. Therefore, Public (read - Govt.) Systems (read - Organisations) Management is a new emerging concept in this field of study and work. There is a mood of changing the Traditional Public Administration to a newer and trendier as well as effective process termed aptly as Public Systems Management.

Before embarking in detail on the concept of Public Systems Management one should make clear in his/her mind that there is no attempt at making the conservative mistake of assuming Public and Private Management as one and the same. Private Systems Management is a way of working where Profit motive drives each and every aspect of it, whereas, public Systems Management is only concerned with the designing and operation of Public Services and the effective functioning of the above and the executive Government. It makes them "business - like" but not "business" as the goal and missions of the Public systems would be implementation of the Govt policies and Public welfare always however it looks to do the same through better and more effective practices as practiced by the Private systems/organisations.

As one would note that there is now a paradigm shift in Public Administration's nature and character that is more managerial, efficient and in keeping with the times throughout the world since the New Economic Policy was espoused by the UN and its allies International Monetary Fund as well as World Bank via the Brettonwoods Conference. These are:
1) Privatisation and Deregulation
2) Establishing Market like Mechanisms.
3) Decentralisation
4) Debureaucratisation

The theoretical foundations of the abovementioned change are listed below:
A) New Right Philosophy: Beginning in the 1970's, this school of thought propagated the idea of non-interference by the Govt. in economic activity as it created distortions in the market producing adverse outcomes. According to this philosophy, the Govt. should play the role of a regulator and producer. Thus it can be deduced that it advocated deregulation and privatisation, reduction of inflation,lower taxation, increasing role of the market in providing public services and institutional and constitutional reforms that would lead to reduction in lobbying and interest groups and impose a Constitutional upper limit on public expenditure as a proportion of the GDP.

B) Public Choice Approach: This has already been covered in a previous post on this blog. Refer to post titled " WILSON'S VIEW OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION"

C) Property Rights Theory:  It is a way of understanding the incentives for performance that exist in private sector and examining whether they can be introduced in the public sector. However, since Public officials cannot claim ownership over Public Organisations via shareholding/property rights therefore Privatisation which entails changes in property rights in favour of private ownership, is thus considered beneficial for the promotion of efficiency.

D) Principal - Agent Theory: The public are the Principal or the owner and the private sector as well as the public sector which are providing the public with services are the Agents who work for the Principal since the former possess the needed skill and expertise to do the job efficiently.

E) Organisation and Management Literature: This takes into account all the Literature that critique the Weberian Model of Administration and promotes the culture of adoption of private sector practices in the public sector particularly in a fast changing and hostile environment.
The effects of these literature are seen almost everywhere nowadays viz. downsizing of bureaucracy, devolution of authority, cost reduction, contracting out to private sector organisations by the Govt. , developing and designing result oriented appraisal system and commercialisation as well as market orientation.

1) Greater flexibility in tailoring the organisation to circumstances, instead of necessarily following a rigid Weberian model.
2) Focus on results.
3) Greater attention on strategic planning.
4) Private sector personnel practices to be adopted like incentivisation,etc.
5) Steering role of the Govt. instead of direct involvement.
6) Orientation to needs of the customers and provision of the same timely and efficiently.
7) Use of market mechanisms in those activities of the public sector which cannot be privatised.

As mentioned above and to further explain it's scope one can see that it affects almost every aspect of functioning of the Public Sector today like increasing Productivity, Service orientation, Decentralisation, Policy efficiency, Accountability on results.

1) Concerned with delivery of high quality services valued by citizens.
2) Considers citizens as active consumers and serious attempts are made to find out their expectations and needs.
3) Provides greater flexibility in working conditions and permits more expertise and employee creativity.
4) Creates conditions for more positive and productive managerial leadership by simplifying organisational structures and flattened hierarchies.
5) Develops rigorous performance measurement of individuals and organisations.
6) Receptive to competition and adopts an open minded attitude towards management of public organisations.
7) Adopts collaborative and networking approach to work with public, private and voluntary sectors in solving community problems and providing public services.
8) Advocates decentralisation of authority embracing participatory management model.
9) Prefers market mechanisms to bureaucratic mechanisms.
10) Takes steps to prevent administrative problems rather than tackle them after they arise.
11) high levels of transparency and accountability instead of mere adherence to rules and regulations,etc.
12) Extensive use of IT for all operations.
13) Decentralisation.
14) New role for civil servants - exercising technical competence, managerial skills with policy making capacities.
15) Fosters a new work culture in public system/ govt. organisations with incentive systems, performance evaluation, pay differentials, etc.

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