The Profession of Government: The Public Service in Europe

By Brian Chapman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
Promotion

During the nineteenth century in most countries the minister was master in his house, and promotions were decided by him. In some countries the highest posts were closed to promotion since their holders were directly appointed by the minister who only rarely chose properly established people from inside the administration.

This meant that for the vast majority of officials there was no hope of promotion to the highest levels, and therefore no reason to overwork. This led to the general feeling that promotion should be taken out of the hands of the minister, and organized in a way which eliminated favouritism or politics. The only known way in which absolute objectivity can be ensured is for all promotions to be made entirely on grounds of seniority. If a post falls vacant it is filled by the person who has served longest in the post immediately below.

The trouble with the seniority system is that it is so objective that it fails to take any account of personal merit. As a system it is fair to every official except the best ones; an official has nothing to win or lose provided he does not actually become so inefficient that disciplinary action has to be taken against him. Thus, although it is fair after a fashion to the officials themselves, it is a heavy burden on the public and a great strain on the efficient handling of public business.

To introduce the idea of merit into promotion procedure introduces an element of personal evaluation, and personal evaluation opens the door to the abuses of nepotism and favouritism against which the officials (and liberal thinkers, too) originally reacted.

There is, in fact, a genuine dilemma in promotion which has caused all countries concern over the last twenty or thirty

-164-

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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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