Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Recruitment and Selection of Public Workers: An International Compendium of Modern Trends and Practices

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Recruitment and Selection of Public Workers: An International Compendium of Modern Trends and Practices

Article excerpt

Ultimately, the ability of government to provide services effectively and efficiently depends upon a competent cadre of civil servants. Good government requires good people. This has always been true, but its importance to the international community has probably never been more critical than it is today. Seldom, if ever, have the world's governments confronted a more daunting set of challenges that affect every nation, regardless of geographic location, political system, social structure or level of development. Powerful forces--globalization, economic competition that cuts across national borders, social and political upheavals, technological change, threats of terrorism, and a rapidly-changing labor market--place enormous burdens on governments. The success of any government to respond effectively to these challenges is dictated largely by its ability to recruit and retain a talented workforce. Nations that fail to compete successfully in the global war for talent are likely to suffer dire consequences, while those that excel will be well positioned to succeed.

Not surprisingly, most of the international community is faced with a common set of human resource management (HRM) dilemmas. In the developed world, common problems are:

* The aging of the indigenous civil service, posing the immediate threat of high turnover and a lack of qualified replacements;

* A growing vacuum among "the leadership bench"--the next generation of policymakers and top civil servants who will assume critical roles in directing their governments' efforts to negotiate the troubled waters of the 21st Century;

* The changing definition of career, which means that employee loyalty to the organization is tenuous at best, and which discourages workers from joining government service for the long haul (Green 2002);

* Rapid change (e.g., in technology and economic conditions) that requires a highly fluid skill mix in the workforce;

* Strong competition from the private sector for the best and the brightest;

* Budget limitations that reduce compensation and financial incentives, thereby placing government at a disadvantage vis-a-vis business and industry; and

* A negative public image ("government bashing"), which translates into the widespread perception that government is no longer the employer of choice (if it ever was) (Reichenberg 2002).

Compounding these problems are such recent developments as privatization and the outsourcing of many government jobs (a trend that reduces job security and blurs the line between public service and private enterprise), and an erosion of the benefit packages and job security that once were the most effective recruitment tools for government. Adding to this dynamic mix are the widespread demands for "accountability," which often are translated into managerialism--a management focus that harkens back to an earlier era (Classical Management, Scientific Management, or Taylorism) where control functions are heavily emphasized, thereby diminishing some of the intrinsic satisfaction that public service is supposed to provide (Kearney and Hays 1988). Simply stated, today's pressures for greater efficiency in government often make government service less appealing to the very workers whose contributions are needed most.

Of course, less-developed countries face these same challenges, plus even more demanding social, economic and technological barriers.

In sum, it is not hyperbole to suggest that many nations are facing a recruitment crisis. At the time when governments need to be most adept at luring talent to public service, their ability to do so has rarely been so constrained and complicated by economic, social and organizational pressures.

This article provides an overview of the types of recruitment and selection initiatives already in place in many nations that can help the world's governments attract and retain talent. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.