The Profession of Government: The Public Service in Europe

By Brian Chapman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
Recruitment

In the last hundred years European countries, at varying rates of progress, have attempted to standardize and formalize methods of entry to their public services. Pressure to do so came from two sources. First, the public officials themselves; second, enlightened political and academic opinion. Apart from Prussia and the German states which followed the Prussian tradition, the traditional view of public office was that it was the gift of government. In both monarchical and republican countries this meant in practice the political leaders of the day. There is little point here in elaborating the doctrine of patronage and the spoils system; they are well known. Experience showed this system had two defects: favouritism and inefficiency. The worst effects of favouritism could be offset by tacitly accepting the principle of security of tenure; but efficiency could only be obtained by prescribing some fairly objective tests of merit before appointment.

Some countries were always in advance of others in this field. By 1794 Prussia had developed a highly trained and homogeneous body of public officials as an essential element in creating a strong state. Long and gruelling training prior to acceptance in office, fixed rules of entry and conditions of service encouraged the emergence of a social-bureaucratic élite, but avoided personal favouritism and inefficiency. In France, some of Napoleon's reforms tended in the direction of a state machine based on merit, but he left little behind him in the way of an impartially controlled system of entry to civil office. However, the great technical schools -- the Ecole Polytechnique, the Ecole des Mines, and the Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées, which expanded during his time, did provide a route to some of the highest posts of state, entry to which was

-74-

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The Profession of Government: The Public Service in Europe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 5
  • Contents 7
  • PART ONE - COMPOSITION 45
  • Chapter 2 - Recruitment 74
  • Chapter 3 - Training 99
  • PART TWO - CONDITIONS OF SERVICE 131
  • Chapter 5 - Security of Tenure 145
  • Chapter 6 - Pensions 153
  • Chapter 7 - Discipline 158
  • Chapter 8 - Promotion 164
  • PART THREE - CONTROL 179
  • Chapter 10 - The Structure and Personnel of Administrative Courts 199
  • Chapter II - The Powers of Administrative Courts 206
  • Chapter 12 - The Ombudsman 245
  • Chapter 13 - Financial Control 260
  • PART FOUR - POLITICS AND PUBLIC 271
  • Chapter 15 - Public Service Trade Unions 296
  • Chapter 16 - Public Officials and the Public 308
  • Bibliography 323
  • Index 345
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