Academic journal article The Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

Implementation of Public Sector Reforms in Pakistan: A Contextual Model

Academic journal article The Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

Implementation of Public Sector Reforms in Pakistan: A Contextual Model

Article excerpt

Introduction

Reforming the government is a global phenomenon as every country is confronted with almost similar challenges and problems brought about by globalization, technological developments, financial constraints, and rising public expectations. The World Development Report (1997) points to the need for strengthening institutions as necessary mechanisms for creating an enabling environment for markets to function efficiently. There is, however, general consensus that governments around the globe are not performing as they should, hence the need for reform (Polidano et al. 1999). In recent years international organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations have assumed leadership roles in reform of the state (Kamarck 2003) with two objectives: First, to strike a balance between public and private sectors on the basis of social, political, and economic factors unique to each country; and Two, to make the governments efficient, responsive, and accountable in performing their functions. Reforms may be undertaken to fight corruption (Larmour, 1997) and/or to modernize large, outmoded bureaucracies and bring them into the information age and democratic order (Ray et al, 1996). Various labels such as reinvention, modernization, new public management, and capacity building are used for such reform efforts in both developed and developing countries. The global government reform movement, under the umbrella of NPM (New Public Management) has gained prominence in recent years. NPM advocates managerial autonomy, performance-based contracts, structural disaggregation, introduction of private sector management practices, and financial discipline (Hood 1991).

Pakistan has embarked upon a number of economic, social, and administrative reforms since early 1950s to make the country vibrant and competitive in the new world. In Pakistan, public administration reform has always been a key development priority because of the widespread perception that public administration, designed for serving the interests of colonial masters, cannot take up the responsibilities of a state created for the socio-economic well-being of its citizens (Gladieux Report 1955). Despite the interest and rhetoric, the reform attempts in Pakistan have not yielded the desired results. One of the major reasons for failure of PSMR is the lack of indigenous model that informs and guides formulation, implementation, and evaluation of reforms. Generally, reform models (such as NPM) have been borrowed from other countries (especially the US) and implemented without taking into account the local context (Polidano et al. 1999). The result has been a mismatch between the context and reform intervention. In particular, the implementation phase has not received due attention of the policy-makers (Pollitt. 2004). The study in question attempts to come up with a contextual model for reforms implementation in the Pakistan with focus on autonomous/semi-autonomous agencies created since 1980s. The proposed model can help increase the chances of reforms success by bringing into sharp focus the factors that make or mar reform efforts at the implementation stage.

Problem Statement

Reforms in Pakistan have generally been driven by the need to restructure public organizations to redefine their purpose, enhance accountability, provide incentives, re-organize distribution of power, and change the organizational culture (Cheema et al. 2005). According to Charles Polidano (2001) most reforms in government fail. They do not fail because, once implemented, they yield unsatisfactory outcomes. They fail because they never get past the implementation stage at all (Hill et al. 2002). They are blocked outright by vested interests or put into effect only in halfhearted fashion. The difficulty is that quite often, the prescriptions that are offered have as much to do with the content of reform (what sort of initiatives should be taken) as with the approach (Jacobs 1998). …

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