An idiographic analysis of new public management / leadership and traditional public management / leadership
Author(s)Alexandre, Cesar da S
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AbstractThesis (DTech (Public Management))--Cape Peninsula University of Technology, 2008.
Public service professionals can no longer afford to be ethnocentric, inward looking, focused on the past, and defensive. They must be forward-looking, globally oriented, innovative, adaptable, and ready to take advantage of opportunities to serve the community more effectively. Public Administration, if it is to be well done, must be aggressive, not a passive enterprise; in the pursuit of public interest (Cooper et al., 1998). Industrial era Public Administrators, characterized by high degrees of centralization and large driven bureaucracies, cannot meet the needs and challenges of the new information era. New kinds of Public Institutions are therefore required which are more flexible and more customer and results oriented. This trend follows what is emerging outside the public sector where organizations are promoting flatter management structures, decentralization of authority and a greater focus on improving quality and customer service. The many decades of dormancy in the administrative and organizational structure of the public sector were reflected in and influenced by the unchanging nature of public service culture (Caiden, 1990). In contrast, there has been a rush for reform during the past 12 years, reflected in new policies, structures, financial management frameworks and service outcomes aimed at enhancing public sector accountability, transparency and efficiency. This, however, has not been accompanied by a vision for a new public sector organizational culture, of more customer driven and business like mentality. Underpinning sustainable organizational change is cultural change of the organization itself and of their employees, which in turn is most effectively driven by a new visionary transformational leadership style which the author calls Public Sector New Era Leadership: A Paradigm. The author argues that it is critical for top Public Service managers to identify themselves with the elements characterizing the theoretical construct of the new visionary, transformational leaders advocated in this research. A new public administration model should be manifested through a new set of techniques, values, methods, skills and behaviours, related to results and performance, instead of status quo maintenance, and with the adoption of a more customer driven and business like mentality, while taking cognizance of the unique diversity, strategies and socio-economic, political perspectives of South Africa. Therefore the author argues that it is imperative to perk up and emend the current leadership and governance framework, to drastically improve the service delivery at the pace needed in South Africa especially the service delivery backlogs in disadvantaged communities. The research has identified the serious need for a New Era Leadership in the Public Sector, appropriately supported by competent and effective governance. Contemporary leadership theory promotes the view that optimal leadership approaches are not personality based or universally applicable. The most effective organizations are those where the approach adopted, best meets the needs of the organization and the business situation at hand (Farkas and Wetlanfer, 1998). Transformational visionary leadership has been identified in this study as a leadership approach that is most likely to create sustainable change for improved efficiency and effectiveness. Schein (1992:374-392) argues that transformational leaders of the future will have to be perpetual lifelong learners. New Era Leadership and all New Public Management reforms essentially implies fundamental changes to the power relationships between the key players in the system of government and requires considerable attitudinal and courageous changes on the part of the bureaucrats. Political and Administrative leadership in the Public Sector should work together in the pursuit of the following summarized leading ideas and values. An incorporation of private sector approaches; development of a stronger external orientation, incorporation of foresight and anticipation into decision making; a shift from process-oriented to results-oriented government; the importance of visionary leadership found at all levels throughout organizations; the need to change the culture of the public sector; the development of alternative organizational designs based upon principles of decentralization, delayering and openness to outside influences; the promotion of continuous organizational and individual learning, including the development of key competencies of employees; the widespread use of empowerment; team work and participation in decision making; the development of a focus on the customer as the chief source of feedback on how well the organization is doing; the need to manage diversity both within the organization and in terms of the people it serves; the development of more robust performance systems and the use of more imaginative types of incentives to promote improvements; a reshaping of the boundaries between the public and private sector through privatization; contracting out and partnerships; and the demonstration of greater responsiveness to ministers, as well as greater accountability to legislatures and the public. In the Public Services arena, the leadership question is not, however, the question about government performance that is usually asked. Traditionally, managers have asked the systems question. Rather than develop public managers with the transformational and transactional leadership capacity to improve the performance of their organizations, the public service bureaucracy sought to create performance systems that will impose such improvements. Thus, the public sector has tended (if not implicitly) to ignore the leadership question and, instead, have focused on the system question: How can we compel, command, or coerce public officials into improving their performance. This systems approach has proved not to be effective. Administrative requirements (for performance or anything else) are not designed to elicit discemment and adaptation. They are created to impose obedience, conformity and mediocrity. Rather than impose systems requirements and pay higher salaries for managers who have reached their level of incompetence, develop public managers to acquire the crucial transactional, transformational & visionary New Era Leadership skills.