New Public Management and the Conceptual Upheaval of Human Resource Management

Algimantas Sakalas, Milita Vienazindiene


During the last decades of the 20th century most world states, Lithuania being one of them, started different reforms of a public sector that were aimed at transforming M.Weber’s described ideal, legislative and rational bureaucracy and increasing the effectiveness of public institutions and their activity. According to the theorists of these reforms (Osborne, Gaebler, 1992; Hughes, 1998; Pollitt, Bouckaert, 2003), inflexible, centralized bureaucracies developed during industrial periods have become ineffective and unproductive; moreover, they cannot function effectively and successfully in a rapidly changing knowledge society and economy. Thus, they should be changed into more flexible, result oriented, modern management models developing the partnership of public and private sectors (Skietrys, Raipa, Bartkus, 2008). This aspiration is the main stimulus to turn to a business sector under the market conditions and to base on New Public Management (NPM) modernizing the structures of administration culture taking into account the challenges of the time under consideration. NPM ideas and their introduction are directly linked with human resources (HR) of public institutions. HR is the main and most valuable asset that is managed by the institutions of a public sector. Activity effectiveness depends on it. According to M. Armstrong (2006), human resource management (HRM) is a strategic, complex approach to the most important aspect of an organization, i.e. to people who individually and collectively support the realization of organizational objectives. This approach explains the fact that HR is the main factor of any changes having its culture and aspirations that can stimulate or hinder changes related to the change from public administration (PA) to NPM. In order to achieve a consecutive turn, the system of HRM is of the utmost importance as well as its conformity to NPM requirements that witness the change of principles (Storey, 2001). Thus, this change is a process that requires objective and full assessment of the present HRM that would help to reveal the obstacles of the change and would offer development directions. NPM is a new way, however, some of public sector models have already been tried. Their analysis is closely related with some researches (Pollitt, 1993, 2003; Osborne, Gaebler, 1992; Wilson, 2004, Boston, 1991; Hughes, 1998; Hood, 1991; Kettl, 2000; Massey,1993; Peters, Waterman, 1982; Peters, 2003; and others). Much attention is devoted to Weber’s ideal bureaucracy model and its criticism that has been aimed at opposing public choice and “managerialism” theories (Aucoin, 1990; Reichard, 1992; Schedler, 1995; Budäus, Grüning, 1998). However, both management practice and theory hold that there exists some succession between the new and the old, and this aspect should be taken into account. Lithuanian researchers also stress this fact (Puskorius, 2002; Raipa, 2001; Domarkas, 2004). Mention is made about an intermediate case of a public sector reform (Domarkas, 2004), the necessity of political changes (Zidonis, Sudnickas, 2005), the models of effective activity development (Christauskas, Marcinkeviciute, Petrauskiene, 2007). There are research works that deal with public sector institutions, different aspects of HRM and their changes (Thom, Ritz, 2004; Manning, Parison, 2002;Fleming, 2000; Larsen, Brewster, 2003; Rabin, 2003, Renwick, 2003; OECD, 2005). Lithuanian researchers of a public sector base their approaches on western theories and models while analyzing HRM (Barsauskiene, 2002; Vienazindiene, 2009; Siugzdiniene, 2008; Chlivickas, 2005; Domarkas, 2002; Raipa, 2003; Velicka, Minkevicius, 2005; Juraleviciene, 2003; Ciarniene et al., 2007; Tijunaitiene, Neverauskas, Balciunas, 2009; Gustas, 2003, Cesnuleviciene, Lakis, 2002 and others) They emphasize Lithuanian peculiarities. In spite of a wide range of researches, HRM change from public administration (PA) to NPM is analized rather fragmentary; they lack the system approach that could reveal the cognition of this phenomenon, i.e. its research methodology showing HR change from PA to NPM. This article is aimed at presenting a research methodology and its application in practice, and the use of the results obtained is clearly demonstrated in the field of HRM development.


public sector (PS); business management; new public management (NPM); human resource (HR); human resource management (HRM); HRM research methods; NPM level; HRM level.

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