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Book Review

Driving the Fake Out of Public Administration : Detoxing HR in the Canadian Federal Public Sector

Driving the Fake Out of Public Administration : Detoxing HR in the Canadian Federal Public Sector

by Ruth Hubbard, Gilles Paquet

Much of the waste in public administration is ascribable to the displacement of the primary concern for performance and coordination by a primary concern for redistribution. In each sphere of activities, it has led to unreasonable rules inspired by egalitarianism that have triggered permanent allocational malefits. The failure to confront the progressivist ethos and the culture has rendered any action on the managerial front ineffective.

First, the authors underscore the seemingly unanimous diagnosis of waste and dysfunctions in Canada's federal public service, and show that efforts to correct the situation have failed. This failure is ascribable to a fundamental incapacity to deal concurrently with the ill-advised managerial decisions of governments and the perverse progressivist philosophy inspiring them.

Second, an MRI of the human resource (HR) regimes has been sketched as a guide to the detoxing and modernisation of the HR regimes. It was used to spell out some guidelines for the modification of management structures and competencies, and to probe the cultural underground of moral contracts that would need to underpin the new arrangements.

The conclusion hammers home that prototyping refurbished structures and rules may succeed in breaking out momentarily from ill-inspired initiatives like the Pearsonian mental prison of the model employer, but that it would prove futile and temporary unless one can tame the progressivist cosmology that will bring those ill-inspired schemes back from their ashes.

Some modest general propositions are put forward.

Ruth Hubbard is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre on Governance of the University of Ottawa. She served for more than a decade as a federal deputy minister in the Government of Canada. Gilles Paquet is Professor Emeritus at the Telfer School of Management and a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre on Governance of the University of Ottawa. He is alsoEditor in Chief of www.optimumonline.ca, an electronic journal on governance and public management, reaching 10,000 subscribers. For more information, see his website at www.gouvernance.ca.

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Table of Contents

Preamble : The Storyline: It Is All a Matter of Coordination Gilles Paquet
Introduction : The Priority Should Be Performance, Not Being a Model Employer Ruth Hubbard Culture governance shift HR as a crucial arena 50 years ago the HR regime went off track: the model employer conceit
Part I : Cleansing The Augean Stables
Chapter 1 : Tinkering Can No Longer Suffice Ruth Hubbard and Gilles Paquet Vignettes of diagnoses and cures from different perspectives Evasive thinking Tackling the problem head on
Chapter 2 : Failure To Confront Gilles Paquet The degradation of the common public culture Failure to confront in action Failure to confront in action The case for more gumption
Part II : Modeling
Chapter 3 : An MRI of HRM in The Public Sector: A Prototype Intent on Complicating Matters Ruth Hubbard and Gilles Paquet Preliminaries General sources of high performance In praise of hybrid forms of governance
Part III : Prototyping
Chapter 4 : Social Architecture and Competencies Ruth Hubbard and Gilles Paquet Boards of management Competency design as crucial complement Kickstarting the innovation process
Chapter 5 : An Agenda For Cultural Change in The Federal Public Service Gilles Paquet In search of a new covenant The transformation of the public service culture From here to the new covenant in six difficult steps
Conclusion : Killing Two Birds with One Stone: A Mental Prison and A Cosmology Gilles Paquet Progressivism and the age of unreason Containing the Pearsonian conceit Harnessing the progressive deceit The revolutionary philosophy of equability

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