Pakistan Institute of Development Economics

JEL Classification : J21, J31
Why Civil Service Reforms Do Not Work 
Publication Year : 2007

Public sector reform (PSR) efforts in developing countries have been less than successful in the past. Motivated by budgetary considerations, they have focused on downsizing and procedural changes without radically altering the outmoded incentive system, which, in many countries, is now characterised by declining real wages, wage compression, and a non-merit promotion and reward system. Using results from the incentives literature, this paper argues that, for a reform effort to succeed, public sector human resource management (HRM) will have to be reformed at an early stage to establish productivity incentives in the public sector. These will include introducing substantial autonomy to organisations in their work, incentive schemes, and HRM along the lines of the now well-accepted concept of central bank independence.