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Sebastian Jilke, Joris van der Voet and Steven Van de Walle

The Dutch government has designed an impressive amount of reform packages in past decades. Recurring themes include the delegation of public service delivery, joined-up government and the implementation of cost-decreasing management practices. Reforms in the Dutch central civil service are typically implemented with system-wide reform programmes. Since 2000, the central civil service has continuously been subject to ambitious reform programmes, and managers evaluate these reforms as being relatively successful. According to Dutch public executives, major reform trends include a stronger focus on managerial outcomes and results, public sector downsizing and the collaboration between public sector actors – and in particular networked governance. The chapter also shows that Dutch public managers are heavy users of management tools and instruments, and place a very strong emphasis on performance.

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Stephan Leixnering, Andrea Schikowitz and Renate E. Meyer

The Austrian COCOPS findings confirm the ongoing relevance of the traditional legalistic public sector norms and values. However, this traditional administrative culture is today supplemented with managerialistic and network-oriented ideas and orientations. Combining a focus on results with process orientation and increased networking and mediating activities between diverse actors and interests, we find hybrid forms of governance and executives’ role identities. For instance, shifting value priorities, such as emphasis of the relevance of results in general, go along with reluctant behaviour, such as a lack of actual performance management, underscored by the perception of low management autonomy. Thus, while managerial values and principles appear as incorporated in Austrian public executives’ role identities, in order to deal with shortcomings and contradictions with the existing system, they fall back to familiar practices: Basically, nothing is different, but everything’s changed.

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Steven Van de Walle, Gerhard Hammerschmid, Anca Oprisor and Vid Štimac

Recent years have seen a strong growth in comparative public administration research. In Europe, increasing integration has stimulated interest in comparative studies of European countries’ administrative systems and how these are changing. There has also been a strong increase in the empirical material available for comparative analysis. Much of this material comes from international organisations, but also researchers have compiled large empirical datasets, building on a tradition of administrative elite studies. The COCOPS project has been developed as one of the largest comparative research projects in Europe ever. Its objectives are to advance the study of the transformations of European administrative systems by taking a broader perspective on public management and administrative reforms, by setting up a systematically comparative research design and by constructing an original dataset based on a large-scale executive survey. This chapter introduces the multi-country COCOPS Top Public Executive Survey, including the sample and the questionnaire.

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Rhys Andrews, Philippe Bezes, Gerhard Hammerschmid and Steven Van de Walle

This chapter discusses the lessons that can be drawn from the findings presented in the book and outlines a future research agenda for European comparative public administration. The evidence on the salience of different reform paradigms in European central governments is summarised, along with the broad patterns of convergence and divergence in reform trends across Europe. Suggestions for more detailed analyses that can build on the research presented in the book are then made. The main lessons from the book are that: (a) between 2008 and 2013 most public management reforms were of a neo-Weberian/New Public Governance (NPG) type focused on transparency, collaboration and e-government; (b) important cross-country variations in the interpretation and implementation of public management reforms still persist; and, (c) future research should focus more closely on the influence of administrative and political cultures on the causes and consequences of management reforms.

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Per Lægreid, Tiina Randma-Liiv, Lise H. Rykkja and Külli Sarapuu

Across Europe there has been an increasing trend towards addressing coordination problems within the public sector. New administrative instruments and reforms have been introduced to deal with the alleged disintegration or fragmentation brought about by NPM, to increase steering capacity and to deal with ‘wicked problems’. This chapter examines top executives’ assessments of horizontal and vertical coordination problems both internally, within the central government, and externally, in partnerships with stakeholders in the private and civil sectors. We present survey data from 17 European countries and explore variations in role identification relating to coordination culture, coordination mechanisms, the assessment of coordination quality and public management performance with respect to coordination. The study shows that although hierarchy is still a dominant coordination mechanism, the perceived quality of coordination is more linked to the use of network-type arrangements and the presence of a coordination culture.

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Carsten Greve and Niels Ejersbo

The key questions addressed in this chapter are: How have public management reforms developed in Denmark? What are the key management tools in place and what explains their use? What are the outcomes and implications of public management reform in Denmark? This chapter describes how Denmark has turned into a Neo-Weberian State using digital era governance elements where a modernized and efficient state, spurred on by the Danish Ministry of Finance, is aided by a digital reform effort focusing on outcomes and results, and a more integrated and holistic approach. The outcome of the various modernization programmes and reforms in Denmark over the last decades is a rather robust and well performing public sector. This is confirmed by the various international rankings where Denmark consistently scores high on most management and governance criteria.

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Turo Virtanen

The structures and steering systems of Finnish public administration have been reformed significantly since the early 1990s. Most reform trends are considered more important by top Finnish civil servants than by the COCOPS respondents on average. The strongest reform trends include transparency and open government, collaboration and cooperation within the public sector, e-governance, and focusing on outcomes and results. Implementation is based on a more top-down approach than is the case in other countries. Staff appraisal talks, management by objectives and results, and internal steering by contracts are used more commonly than in other countries. Key problems relate to policy coordination across governmental sectors and levels.

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Philippe Bezes and Gilles Jeannot

Based on the COCOPS Top Executive Survey on the contents and effects of administrative reforms, the chapter on France emphasizes the specificities of the French reform during the Sarkozy mandate (2007_2012). The impact of austerity through downsizing measures in the civil service as well as a policy of organizational merging are emphasized while, by contrast, reforms emphasizing transparency or citizen participation attract little attention. In comparative perspective, France has one of the weakest ‘equipment rates’ in managerial tools in Europe, with the exception of Spain, and together with two other Continental countries, Germany or Austria. Compared to other European countries, French top public officials are more critical about changes in the public sector and perceive signals of deterioration in the civil service based on a decline of staff motivation and attractiveness but also on negative perceived effects of reform on social cohesion or citizen participation.

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Gerhard Hammerschmid and Anca Oprisor

In international comparative literature, Germany is frequently coined as a ‘laggard’ or a ‘latecomer’ with regard to (new) public management reforms. This chapter based on answers from top officials in German federal and state government reveals a more nuanced picture of public administration reforms in Germany. It shows that German public administration is more prone to reform and more aligned to European reform trends than would be expected. Executives’ values, self-perceptions and reform experiences indicate an increasing opening towards a management logic and administrative reforms. The practical impact of these reforms trends both at policy field and especially organizational level has remained rather limited up until now and do not indicate a substantial change in the dominantly Weberian and legalistic character of German public administration.

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Rimantas Rauleckas, Vitalis Nakrošis, Rasa Šnapštienė and Ligita Šarkutė

The focus of this chapter is on the distinctive trajectory of performance management in Lithuania. The relevancy of public sector downsizing, customer orientation and focus on results confirms that the agenda of the Lithuanian authorities in 2008_2012 was dominated by NPM-type reforms. The financial crisis increased the pressures to focus on performance management at organizational and individual levels which contributed to a comparatively higher institutionalization of managerialism in Lithuania, for example, the most commonly implemented tools at organizational level (strategic planning, management by objectives, codes of conduct) in Lithuania are obligatory by law. More autonomous and less politicized organizations, agencies compared to ministries are better performance managers. The COCOPS data confirm that public management reforms in Lithuania matter – important links between the application of management tools and public administration outcomes are empirically observed. However, formally existing performance management tools still need adequate support from individual organizations and their managers.