Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

The Facilitative State and Human Resources Management

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

The Facilitative State and Human Resources Management

Article excerpt

Public sector human resources management (HRM) today functions more-or-less globally in a Facilitative State era in which state regime theories and practices differ significantly from those of the nine decades of the Administrative State during which the field developed. This comparative analysis of contemporary HRM in seven nation states and in the state of California probes one fundamental question: Facilitation of what? In particular, what are the standards of facilitative-state HRM? How do shared and varied regime values impact the field, and vice versa? In answers, politics and its definitions and absent or present qualities of merit, including ethics, are inescapable factors.

Social self governance, a more-or-less global market economy, and facilitative government are defining themes of today's international and domestic theories and some practices of governance. Together, these define a somewhat new era of public affairs that is largely oriented to a Facilitative State. These themes contrast significantly, but by no means entirely, with earlier Administrative State practices at most levels of society, from international to local.

No field of public administration has been more impacted by these developments than human resources management (HRM). Comparative analysis of these impacts on HRM leads quickly to one fundamental question with many important answers: Facilitation of what? Elaborations of that and related questions that are now familiar in HRM follow: By whom? By what processes? And most crucially, by what standards: Ethics? Expertise? Politics? The values and disciplines of constitutional democracy?

By comparison of HRM and related developments in societies with both comparable and contrasting regime systems and challenges, this analysis critiques theories and practices that, along with major continuities in what is done, define present times somewhat differently from the Administrative State era in which public sector HRM was developed. First, contemporary theories (principles? ideals?) of today's Facilitative State are summarized. Second, established civil service practices and recent HRM changes in a few highly developed societies (Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, California, and the United States national government) that have more-or-less embraced Facilitative State theories are briefly sketched. Third, examples of redeveloping nations that are relatively highly advanced but fast changing are noted: Poland and the Republic of Kazakhstan from the former Soviet system and Kuwait from the Islamic Middle East. In conclusion, one inescapable set of factors of HRM in Facilitative State developments is highlighted: politics and its definitions and practices of merit and ethics.

Facilitative State Theories and Practices

Globally, for 90 years from the last of the 19th century, the predominant importance of nation-state government and of "rational principles" of bureaucracy for its administration more-or-less defined theories and practices of public affairs. Public personnel administration developed as a field in support of professionally expert civil services, particularly elite "Administrative Services" in support of national interests and other specialized public employment (education, health, welfare, security affairs) of Big Governments of the welfare, socialized, and garrison state decades of the middle of the 20th century.

By the mid-1970s and through the 1980s, reaction against Big Governments resulted in general rejection of state socialism in Western Europe, the collapse of Soviet Communism in Central and Eastern Europe and Soviet Asia, and major restructuring of welfare-state provisions and other practices in North America in the 1980s and 1990s. At times, extremism against government briefly matched earlier excesses that had elevated the Big Nation State to dominance. Thatcherism in Britain and Reaganism in the United States, for example, connoted hostility toward government generally. …

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