The Public Service

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We are going to look at the micro level of public administration, so we're going to look at ways of managing the public service, how to manage people in the public service, how to manage human resources, how to manage careers, how to motivate people, how to get them involved in their jobs as much as possible. We will first take into account all public servants, i.e. all those working in the public service, and then distinguish between two types of personnel management: a mode that tends to be more towards what is called the career system [1], what are the advantages and disadvantages of this mode, and another mode that will be what is called the employment or position system [2] and therefore what are the advantages and disadvantages of this second mode. The two modes being largely opposed to each other, we will discuss Switzerland's position in relation to this question of the career system versus the employment system. This first point concerns the public service as a whole. A second point concerns the question of recruitment methods, but this time no longer of all civil servants, but of senior officials, i.e. those with responsibilities in the civil service, who can be attached to ministries such as the head of departments or heads of important central administrations.

We will distinguish between two types of recruitment methods: the merit-based recruitment method[1] and the so called spoilage system[2] and then we will look at the advantages and disadvantages of these recruitment methods. The next point immediately follows from the comparison between the merit system and the spoilage system, which is the question of the politicization of the function. Do senior public servants have to be extremely close to politicians and members of government, or should the neutrality of the public service be guaranteed? There are various different types.

Career versus employment system[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

For the public service as a whole, how does one enter the public service, but if this is in the lowest grades, how does one progress in the public service, what are the working conditions that can be given to public service employees, as such, the literature generally distinguishes between two types of career management:

  • the career system;
  • the employment system.

Career system[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

In the career system, the official is generally recruited at basic grade. This means that he is recruited at the bottom of the hierarchy and from his recruitment onwards he is entitled to a guarantee of employment which does not mean that he is obliged to remain in the civil service throughout his career, but, if he so wishes, he may remain in the civil service. He enters at the lowest level and can progress in the hierarchy of the administration throughout his career by taking into account years of seniority, also taking into account the benefits he has been able to give. In other words, you enter the bottom and go up with a form of employment guarantee.

There are several elements. Recruitment is external, but is mainly for grades at the bottom of the hierarchy. For the other grades, those that are higher in the hierarchy, it is the forms of internal recruitment that will be favoured, the internal promotion of civil servants will be favoured rather than the opening of posts and the possibility of hiring people who come from the private sector or who come from other bodies or groups, other companies or collectives. External recruitment is mainly for the lowest grades. Once the person is recruited, this can be done on the basis of a written competition which is the most frequent in this career system mode, and it is on the basis of the result of this competition that people will be chosen to enter the lowest level. Once in the public service, there is a career guarantee, there is a right to a professional career and that career will be made in a set of positions that is extremely hierarchical. In the career system, there is a pyramid-like view of public administration starting from the bottom, but there is the possibility, depending on seniority and performance, to climb up the various levels of the hierarchy. There is a statutory scheme, the civil servant has an employment status which is guaranteed for life and therefore it is extremely complicated, in a career system, to dismiss civil servants or to call into question the employment relationship with these civil servants. The conditions of promotion are based on seniority or also taking into account the assessment of the performance of the person concerned. In the media, what is often referred to as the "Peter's Principle" is often referred to: if you are promoted automatically, in the same way, automatically, there is a time when you get to your level of incompetence. It is the idea of automatic promotion which means that automatically in the public service, it is obviously a very pejorative, very negative vision of public administration, there will be a good number of people at the highest levels in the public service who will be incompetent because they have been automatically promoted, so taking into account their seniority. It is a hierarchical system, very often civil servants who are members of the public administration will sometimes be divided into administrative bodies, classes or hierarchical levels. In Switzerland, there will be much more talk about class or level, in France, for example, there will be a tendency to talk about administrative bodies. In the career system, there will be a tendency to hire generalists, people who have attended a particular school but are not specialists in a particular field. The specialisation is done through professional experience, i. e. through the exercise of one's profession in the context of public administration.

The first advantage is the idea of experience and administrative continuity. There are always the same people who are in the public administration and therefore we acquire more important experience and at the same time if it is always the same people who work in public migration, there is a continuity of the work that is carried out. If there is too much turnover and rotation of staff, this continuity could be threatened. In other words, it is the idea of experience gained and continuity of administration. The second advantage is the idea of detaching political issues. If the administration is committed over the long term, this means that it is not dependent on government fluctuations. The government can change the administration remains. This means that the administration will not be politicized or marked by partisan issues. The third point that is often put forward is the idea that there are administrative traditions that can develop through continuity. Traditions can develop because in fact knowledge accumulates and so one learns know-how, routines, in the face of this or that problem, to know how to behave because one has accumulated over the course of one's career throughout the years an experience that allows one to better manage problems, it is the idea of administrative memory that can be found in Political Science of the administration. A comparative approach to Eymeri published in 2006. All the advantages are considered to be very favourable to the development of a "public service motivation". The idea of motivation to be a public service would be a system that could be very favourable to the development of this motivation of public service, this desire to put oneself at the service of the public.

On the disadvantage side, the first thing is that public administration is likely to operate in a vacuum. If they are always the same people working together, little by little, rather than opening up to the outside world, they are likely to operate in a vacuum. With the colleagues in the office next door, we will develop our own solutions without perhaps listening to solutions or other solutions that could come from outside. It is the counterpoint to the idea of an administrative tradition, we can develop traditions, but if we are too engulfed or locked in these traditions, it will prevent innovation or prevent us from developing original solutions. At the same time, on this first point, there is also a risk that a homogeneous public administration that is accustomed to working together may oppose policies and thus bypass policy initiatives. At Crozier, we find the idea of parallel power, but with the career system, very clearly, we can more easily see the emergence of parallel powers because people are used to working together and therefore they will support themselves with a more important corporatist spirit that may emerge. The second disadvantage is that if we are used to working together, we run the risk of not showing initiative and innovation, with the risk of becoming established in routine forms, with the risk of a slower pace of public administration, of robotisation of public administration, which can lead to less efficiency. This system is perhaps less sensitive to the idea of human factors, since by putting people in the routine, we are not going to try to mobilize this human factor, its capacity for innovation and creativity that might otherwise exist. This is very close to Weber, it is a system that is very exposed to criticism both by Crozier and psychosociological criticism.

Employment system[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

In contrast to the career system, there is the employment system. It's something very different. Civil servants are not necessarily recruited at the very bottom of the hierarchy, they are recruited to fill a position or job that is fixed-term and for a period of time that may be fixed-term. If we need a computer scientist in such a place, we'll put up a job advertisement and then we'll hire someone for, say, five years in a particular position. We hire someone not necessarily at the very bottom of the hierarchy, we'll hire them where they need to be, and we won't hire them for an indefinite period of time. There is no guarantee of employment in this system, so commitments can be made for varying durations. There is no right to a career; there is no right to advance in the hierarchy, to climb up the public service hierarchy. We are in a very different system and we are going to call it a "contractual system". People who are involved in the employment system have a contract of employment just as much as companies do. They are engaged in a specific function, with a precise duration, and there is no intention of this taking place over time and allowing them to move up the hierarchy, thus having more important hierarchies and responsibilities.

In terms of the organisation of public administration, the emphasis here is much more on a set of jobs than on a pyramidal hierarchy. There are people who will be working in different jobs at different jobs, but with a hierarchy that will be less present than in the vision of career systems. The career system is pyramidal, the employment system will be much more horizontal. This does not mean that there is no hierarchy, but it is things where there is more juxtaposition of positions at the same level as a pyramidal organization with different jobs and positions that can be found in the public administration. With regard to the specialization of civil servants, we do not hire generalists, but we hire people who are specialized in the position or job that they must occupy. There is an approach to recruitment, criteria and system of recruitment that is different from that found in the career system, insisting on the qualifications, expertise and specialization of the persons concerned. The method of recruitment is very similar to that of the private sector, so public servants benefit from a contractual rather than a statutory system. When there are positions that come up higher with positions of responsibility, there is no privileged position for the people who are in place. There is always a new competition and the competition is open not just for those in administration, but for any candidate who would like to apply. There is the idea of external recruitment that would be open to all positions and jobs in the public administration. When you change jobs in the public administration, it is not considered to be a promotion, but the fact that you take another completely different job, which means that you will always have a recruitment procedure in place. We are not in the promotion procedures; we are in the process of re-recruitment and we are on an equal footing with other candidates who could run for the same post. It is a conception of the public service that is far removed from the one put forward by Weber. We try to respond to different criticisms, but at the same time if this system has certain advantages, it obviously also has disadvantages that can be very important.

What are the advantages that could be put forward? There is the issue of staff specialization. We hired generalists in the career system, here we hire specialists, they are people who will be very sharp and competent, which can help to improve the quality of services. There is the question of effectiveness, since people should always be called upon to find more effective and innovative solutions to the problems they face. There is the issue that revolves around the notion of motivation. With the career system, if we give too many benefits, too much job security to people in the public service, the risk is that these people will no longer be motivated to do their best. There is also the risk that this person will favour a spirit of esprit de corps, an egotistical spirit and that this spirit may be out of step or out of step with the idea of public service, which is the idea of general interest. This employment system aims to respond to both criticisms of the career system. With the employment system, there is a lesser risk of parallel power since people are there for a limited period of time, there is less risk that there is a development of esprit de corps, of corporatism, The question of self-interest, whereby Crozier's objection would be less important and less relevant to an employment system, and then there is the question of motivation which is taken into account, but which is taken into account by extrinsic factors. We won't guarantee the job because otherwise you don't need to perform well to keep your job. In the employment system, it is exactly the opposite. This means that in the employment system, if you want to keep your job, if you want to win the new competition, you're going to have to give the best. There is this form of motivation which intervenes extrinsically to a very large extent, to keep a job, to continue working in the service of public administration, it will be necessary to give the best of oneself. To sum up these three to the advantages: specialization, efficiency and everything related to motivation and not being able to develop parallel powers.

Among the disadvantages, what is mentioned is the opposite of advantages. The first disadvantage is the idea of uncertainty and anxiety. If you're not sure if you're going to keep your job, you may wonder if this uncertainty and anxiety are really the elements that make it possible to develop quality work. The second element is what some people call a form of monotony of work, you are hired on a particular job, you are experts in a field, specialists in a field, you are always going to do the same type of work and you have no prospects for the future. Always doing the same thing can also lead to monotony. The last disadvantage is the question of continuity of public administration. If everyone is engaged on the basis of the employment system, it means that turnover and rotation of staff will be extremely important and therefore, in a way, as Eymeri says, this system could carry the risk of seeing the risk of reinventing hot water every time. We cannot rely on administrative traditions, on administrative memory, but we must always reinvent solutions that can be quite banal and that have already been thought of by others.

These two systems are widely opposed and can be considered as two typical ideals. There is the career system on one side and the employment system on the other. In concrete, existing and empirical public services, there is always a mixture of the two. In some cases, the career system will be given priority and for other elements or other types of commitments, the employment system will be used instead. This does not, of course, preclude the fact that in most cases there is a predominance of one of these systems over the other.

The situation in Switzerland[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

What about the situation in Switzerland? The situation in Switzerland is very interesting because it is very revealing of the evolution of the reflections that have been carried out on this issue of the career and employment system. For a very long time, the issue of career management in Switzerland was regulated by the Federal Law of 30 June 1927 on the status of civil servants. This law established the function system based on a number of features. Recruitment was generally based on a competitive recruitment process with the publication of a job advertisement. On the basis of this announcement, anyone could apply. There were no written exams, no written competitions or people were invited. Switzerland did not apply this characteristic of the career system, but it was the head of the service who had significant discretionary power. The person, then, was hired for an administrative period of four years, they were hired to perform a specific function that is integrated into the "state of duties". There was an appendix, an administrative document that listed all the functions and trades the Public Service needed, what were the skill levels and where to place them in the Public Service pyramid. We are not in the framework of mandates that are formally guaranteed for life on paper, careers are highly regulated, people are in a position, a place in the administrative hierarchy that is very clearly identified. If they want to move up in the hierarchy, they know what higher level they will be able to reach. We have the impression with these different elements that we are in a quite interesting mix of the career system and the employment system. In fact, for a very long time, the federal public administration's mandates were always renewed, barring serious misconduct. This means that the four-year administrative period is a formal limitation on the length of engagement, but in fact, it can be said that people had a guarantee of employment and therefore a form of job security that is very typical of the career system. It is as if there is de facto a guarantee of employment and job security throughout the entire career. This is very hierarchical and it is easy to identify career paths where people will progress and climb up through the hierarchy. These are elements that are very close to the system. From 1927 until the adoption of the following law in 2000, entitled the Personnel Act of 24 March 2000 (LPers), the de facto Swiss system, even if this is not the case in the law, is a system that is very similar to the career system. Another element that is also important in the Swiss system and the guarantee of an insurance for retirement which is a pension fund that is generous. In the public service and in many places, even now, the employer will contribute twice as much as the employee has contributed. It is the system as it was designed until the late 1990s. Even before the late 1990s, it was a system that had been the subject of much discussion and questioning that led to the adoption of the LPers. This confederation personnel law was an important signal and is being extended in almost all Swiss cantons. Bélanger and Roy in Evolution of the legal and regulatory framework of the Swiss civil service published in 2013 detail the situations that can be found in the Swiss cantons. We are going to be towards something that represents a very important change in the management of civil servants in Switzerland. In other words, we are moving towards an employment system, which is not a pure employment system.

What are the main innovations and changes compared to the 1927 Act? A first and important change is the abolition of civil servant status. We're more in a statutory regime, moving on to something different. This translates into elements that may appear to be contradictory. The four-year administrative period will be abolished and no longer exists as it stands. At the same time, this results in a loss of job security and therefore also a reduction in protection against redundancies. Individuals who are members of the federal public administration will be hired for an indefinite term. At the same time, there will be a possibility of firing these people. Therefore, where redundancies were exceptional, redundancies become something more conceivable with this new law. The length of the contract is indefinite, but there are grounds for dismissal. There are a number of reasons listed in the act and if the person does not meet those reasons, then they can be dismissed. The first example would be the refusal of work that can reasonably be expected of the person. Repeated breaches of performance shall be regarded as grounds for dismissal. Performance plays an important role. In this system, if one does not perform well, it can be considered a valid reason for dismissal. At the same time, we are going to abandon the extremely hierarchical function system, we are also going to abandon the salary scale and the automatic salary increase. The salary that the official receives at the end of the year will depend not only on the function, not just on experience and seniority, but also on the benefit. Service managers are given more flexibility in the way they manage staff. There is a desire to give more power to the social partnership in the case of the civil service, i. e. to authorise employers and employees to sign collective labour agreements that will make it possible to supplement this personnel law. The law defines a general framework, and if, for example, postal employees and postal employers arrive at the table to adopt a collective agreement, this collective agreement to be supplemented will go law and therefore define the working conditions within the framework of the post office. Working conditions are not only regulated by law, but also managed through social partnership. There has been a lot of willingness expressed by the federal authorities to go further. There was the idea of saying that the just grounds for layoffs should be removed, that the public service should be able to lay off people in the same way and with the same ease as we have in the private sector. There is no reason why public servants should be more protected than private employees. These are ideas that have not yet been adopted, and so we are still in the process of adopting this personnel law, which was adopted in 2000, implemented since 2004 and widely adopted by the Swiss population at the time.

There is clearly a movement towards the employment system that has weakened the situation of people in the public service, but at the same time may also have energized the public service.

Methods of recruitment (senior officials): merit versus spoils[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

We will deal with the senior civil service, i. e. the most important officials, department heads, members of cabinet ministers, i. e. all senior positions in the hierarchy of the civil service or in the hierarchy of ministries or departments, according to the modality of organization of the civil service. There are two distinct ways of recruiting senior officials at this level:

  • the principle of spoils;
  • merit principle.

The principle of spoils is that senior public servants must be appointed by politicians and therefore politicians will take into account their ideas and belonging to the right political party. There is an idea of an osmosis between the senior civil service and the political world that is put in place because it is said that senior officials will work much better with governments and ministers if they are on the same side and follow the same ideas. In English it is the "Spoils System" where senior civil service positions are given according to membership in the right party.

Spoil system: posts distributed according to partisan affiliation (favour of the prince, patronage) Merit system: equal access and objective selection (on the basis of a competition)
Politicization is a dynamic factor: it "regenerates" the public service (beneficial turnover, motivation)
If we always have the same people who exercise the responsibilities of the senior public service, there will be a form of tradition and routine that will settle down, whereas if people change with the government and there is a significant turnover, it means that we will always have new people motivated, so that it will revitalize and regenerate the public service.
Ensuring the competence, professionalism and impartiality of civil servants and the attractiveness of the public service (stability)
It is no longer the membership of a political party that is decisive, but rather the competence and professionalism of the persons concerned. This is something that is different and will emphasise equal access opportunities and also objective forms of selection. There will be a form of competition which will be set up and this competition will make it possible to determine the most competent and professional person in relation to the post concerned. The merit principle also guarantees impartiality; there are officials who are impartial and will be able to pursue the public interest, not partisan interests. There is the idea of the attractiveness of the public service. With the spoils principle, with the change of government, there is a very significant change in the summits of public administration. With the merit principle, there is greater stability in public administration, which can also contribute to its attractiveness. Having a long-term position is a perspective that may be more interesting than doing a "pigeonhole" in the service of public administration.
Apolitism is an illusion: even those who claim to be apolitical often have, in practice, partisan behaviour
The idea of apolitism - the idea that a public servant might not have a partisan preference - is an illusion. We all necessarily have, in the eyes of those who defend this principle of spoils, partisan preferences. Instead of hiding them or pretending that you don't have it so clearly displayed.
Loyalty and neutrality to political power are possible in exchange for career guarantees
Criticism of the merit principle often advanced is to tell oneself that ultimately if they do not have the same ideas as the people at whose service there may be a risk of mismatch. On the contrary, proponents of the merit principle will insist that loyalty and neutrality offer a career guarantee of no guarantee and job security. This means that governments will pass and public servants will somehow be in the service of different governments because it is also part of one of the elements and one of the consequences of job stability that is guaranteed to them.
Politicization allows for optimal cooperation between elected politicians and the administration (trust between ministers and senior officials)
It is optimal cooperation between elected officials and the administration. Since we are on the same side, it will be easier to establish trusting relationships.
The system of political appointments leads to a vicious circle: mistrust of the new political power vis-à-vis affidae, demobilization of civil servants, strengthening of cabinets...
In a system of spoilage or political appointment, this can lead to a vicious circle if the people who have been appointed under this spoilage system remain in place. The government is changing, but we're staying put. In such a system, there could be forms of mistrust between the new elected officials, i. e. the new political tendency in power, and the people who assume the high responsibilities of the civil service, there could even be a form of demobilization of its civil servants, and thus this could contribute to a deterioration in the quality of the services provided by these civil servants. By contrast, if individuals are appointed on the basis of their skills and professionalism, there is not that potential source of mistrust that results from not sharing the same political ideas.
Politicization can attract volunteers or activists to debates and parties, by giving them the possibility of offering them positions.
This makes it possible to attract people to politics. When we win the electoral battle, we also win the spoils of the electoral battle, namely positions of responsibility in the senior public service. This will make it possible to share the spoils between activists and between people of the same ideological and partisan creed.
A competent and non-political administration is a condition of integrity towards the citizen (no politicization of files and administrative decisions)
Such an administration based not on partisan affiliation, but on competence, professionalism, neutrality and a form of impartiality is something that goes in the direction of more honest, more honest treatment that goes more in the direction of equal treatment of citizens. There will be no or less favouritism or patronage in this merit system.
The public administration must reflect the different tendencies of civil society (representativeness).
If a political party that is dominant in the population, if it obtains more votes in an election or a vote, it is not illogical that this representativeness should also be reflected in the composition of the senior public administration.
An apolitical administration is a necessary condition to ensure the continuity of public service (in case of political alternation)
The idea of job stability is also what will help to ensure the continuity of the public administration, the continuity of the public service which is much more complex in a system of remains. There is a stability that allows the public administration to be able to maintain continuity despite fluctuations in elected officials and elected members of governments.

On the one hand, it is partisan membership with a certain number of advantages and on the other hand it is merit with a certain number of advantages, but which can obviously be discussed in both cases in relation to this.

With regard to loyalty and neutrality, many authors have the idea of a disillusioned form of skepticism, that is to say, if you are senior civil servants in the public administration and you see governments of different colours passing by, you end up losing a little bit of your idealism and the idea that you have to serve the public interest and the general interest.

In all countries, there is a combination that may be different from these two systems and how to integrate or try to reconcile the advantages of these two systems:

  • in the United States, it is a system of spoilage that is still very much dominant today. It is a system that was very predominant until the mid-1970s, which was then slightly qualified and now we have a strong comeback of this system of remains. The President of the United States has the opportunity to nominate a number of so-called "political appointees" who are members of the senior public service over whom he has a prerogative of appointment that is almost total. It really depends on the president's decision, so it is very often political party activists who are placed in his office and put there explicitly to oversee the public administration. These appointments are largely based on the principle of spoils. In 1978, Jimmy Carter said that this system went too far, so we had to qualify and balance it out by introducing another system, another part of the public service that would be governed by the merit system. He introduced the "Senior Executive Service" where appointments are no longer political appointments, but appointments are made on the basis of merit and professionalism and the qualifications of the persons concerned. In the United States, there are two components, a clearly politicized body component and a more professionalized merit-based component. Quantitatively, we can see that currently, the two components are about the same. In the event of conflicts, political appointments will take precedence over other forms of appointment, i. e., persons who are appointed on the basis of merit. That said, Obama and even Clinton had also gone in that direction, which was to strengthen the power of "political appointees," and Carter is really someone who was an exception.
  • An example that is often cited as being the opposite is the United Kingdom where, on the contrary, it is in a traditional merit system where people are appointed on the basis of their competence, expertise and qualifications. It is stressed that the English high-ranking civil servant was, at least until the end of the 1970s, largely apolitical. It is not a senior official who is chosen on the basis of political affiliation, but it is often referred to as a "servant of the crown". The so-called "Civil Service" is traditionally managed without political intervention. It is the "Civil Service" itself that will manage career advancement and decide who will move up the hierarchy. There is a form of self-regulation of the senior civil service by senior officials themselves that can lead to disillusioned and ironic forms of institutional skepticism. In the senior civil service, we serve all governments. This is the traditional vision of the senior civil service in Great Britain very clearly based on the merit system. Avec l'arrivée de Thatcher et depuis lors les choses ont passablement évolué, il y a une volonté du politique de contrôler les nominations et des hauts fonctionnaires. Depuis ce moment-là, il y a des négociations qui se mettent en place entre le « Civil Service » et le gouvernement. Cela s’est traduit avec que notamment avec l'adoption d'un programme qu'on appelle « Next Step » créant des agences de prestataires de services qu'on appelle des « Executives Agency » et ces agences ne vont pas recruter leur personnel dans le « Civil Service » dans les personnes qui sont rattachées à ce civil service, mais vont plutôt ouvrir les recrutements à d'autres formes d'appartenance est donc il y a un passage très clair à une forme de systèmes d'emploi avec des recrutements externes qui sont possibles et ces recrutements externes sont bien évidemment marqués par des décisions politiques. Pour la Grande-Bretagne, le système est similiaire, mais qui se déplace un tout petit peu vers un système de dépouille qui prend aussi en compte la notion de système d’emploi.
  • In France, there is a very important presence in the recruitment of senior civil servants, in the way that they are appointed to civil servants, in the so-called "big bodies". In France, one very important feature is that people at the time of initial recruitment can already be distinguished as senior officials. If you have followed the right school, when you leave school, you can already be hired as a member of the senior civil service. We will therefore belong to what we call "large bodies". These bodies may be administrative bodies such as the Council of State, the Court of Accounts, technical bodies such as mining engineers, bridge and road engineers, etc. All these persons are hired as senior civil servants in the case of the French civil service. This is what Bourdieu calls the "nobility of the State" with a great deal of connivance between the various people who have been part of this system and a civil service which is therefore very prestigious. When there is a domination of officials representing about 700 people in the French framework, this appointment will be made in consultation between the administrative bodies, the Council of State, the Court of Auditors etc. and the political authorities. So, there is a mixture of a merit system that comes from belonging or having studied in the right schools, and a system that is being stripped away so that the political power will be able to have a significant influence on the appointment of very high-ranking officials. Another characteristic of the French system is that since there is a political appointment, there may also be frequent round trips between different positions for people in senior public administration. If the political power changes, people will remain high officials because they will keep their status for life in the French regime, but they will no longer be able to be engaged in such important functions, so close to political power. People will be seconded to ministerial offices and may be seconded to very important functions in the private sector. In France, this is what we call the "puffing regime", which means that we can be very close to a minister at some point, after which we can be seconded to another administrative function, but politically less exposed, or we can join the management board of EDF or a particular bank. We also use the term "osmosis" in relation to this, which means that in France there are many very strong links of osmosis between the high offices of the public administration and the high positions of the private economy. It has many passages, synergy between these high functions.
  • Germany is a career system with a system strongly influenced by the idea of career and therefore also by the merit principle. At the same time, for civil servants, there is also in Germany a negotiation that can be set up between the political power and the personnel department as well as with those who are supposed to manage the personnel resources in the ministry concerned. There is a negotiation that can be set up between merit and the question of political acceptability and this negotiation will concern the 3000 Beamten politicians, i. e. the 3000 very high-ranking officials who will be very close to political power.
  • in the Netherlands, there is something very similar. In the Netherlands, we are dealing with coalition governments and therefore the appointment of civil servants is done through consideration of merit and negotiation between the parties. In Germany, negotiations are conducted with political power, the characteristic feature of the Dutch system is that negotiation will take into account merit, but also inter-partisan negotiation between the various parties that are members of the coalition.

In relation to this question of the merit principle and the spoils principle, there are many possible combinations. In some countries there is the system of spoils which is clearly dominant, in others the merit system and there are combinations which seem to be more hybrid.

Politicization of the civil service - attempts to typology political-administrative relations[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

All these elements raise the issue of the politicization of the public service. How to deal with this question of the politicization or degree of politicization of the public service. If we take the elements presented, there are some things that appear to be almost certain, i. e. a career system is rather apolitical, an employment system would be more political since appointments are made more often, the system would be rather politicized, the merit system on the other hand would be a rather apolitical system where the senior public service would not be marked by partisan preferences.

The links are very complex. The degree of politicization and the link between jobs, careers, spoils and merit is something that is complex and therefore has given rise to various attempts at typologies that try to tell us what are the great models that we can observe in terms of relations between the public administration, the civil service, senior officials and the government and what degree of politicization can be observed in relation to this.

Typology according to Timsit and Hood[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

A first typology combines what is found in the literature, notably in Timsit's Theory of Administration (1986) and Hood's The Government of Risk: Understanding Risk Regulation Regimes (2001). They distinguish three types of administrative relations in their work:

App1 typologie timsit hood 1.png
  • a regime of strict separation between the civil service and political power. On the one hand, the public administration will function according to its own logic in an autonomous way and on the other hand the political power which itself will also function according to its own logic in an autonomous way. In such a framework, career management, working conditions, salaries and the methods of recruiting civil servants will be decided autonomously by representatives of the civil service. For example, in the British case the "Civil Service" sets the rules for how the function is to be managed. There is a gap between the two in this system, on the one hand the public service and public administration and on the other the political power. This means that the political power is not going to get involved in the way the public administration works, but it is also going to ask civil servants a duty of discretion not to take political mandate, so political position is to stay away from the political game. The government does not interfere in administrative matters and, likewise, the administration does not take a position on political matters. It's the idea of "duty of discretion". It also means that in the event of failure, it is not the civil servant who will "jump", but the minister who will have to take on the failure and who can be sanctioned for it. One example is the United Kingdom's "Civil Service" so that means what happened before Margaret Thatcher. There are no spoilage systems set up in relation to this, there is a will to separate the two very clearly.
App1 typologie timsit hood 2.png
  • The second type identified by Timsit and Hood is the osmosis regime between the public service and political power. We are more in a regime where the two are separated with a seal between them, on the contrary, there will be interpenetration of the two worlds. This form of osmosis between the two worlds can take a radical, extreme form, i. e. the public service must be representative of the balance of power between political parties. Two examples would be Belgium and Austria. Public servants are appointed on the basis of political affiliation. The composition of the public administration must reflect the balance of power and parties involved. That would be a radical version of osmosis. Our version is an intermediate version, which means that there is interpenetration, but this interpenetration also recognizes that there is a form of autonomy and neutrality. Politics and the civil service are not completely identified or confused, should not be managed according to the same rules as there are territories of political autonomy, that there are territories of autonomy of the civil service, but that there are zones of influence and interpenetration of these two territories. The administration is no longer the complete master of careers in public administration. There may be, for example, the most senior positions in partisan appointments. In France, there is a partisan element to the appointment of senior officials, in Germany, there is the same component between merit and acceptability. The government will intervene in the management of public administration. In particular, it will do so through ministerial cabinets or political advisers who will be used to ensure that the political administration acts in the direction expected of it. Responsibility for failure is assumed by senior officials together with ministers.
App1 typologie timsit hood 3.png
  • the third scheme they identify clearly refers to the employment system. This is what they call the "contractual regime". That's exactly the NextStep exemption that Margaret Thatcher put in place. Senior officials are appointed to be executive agency directors and therefore the working conditions are no longer statutory, but they are contractual, they will be negotiated on an individual contract, according to a mandate and therefore salary, working conditions, working hours, but also bonuses can be negotiated between the political power and the people concerned. We are in an employment system where there is an accountability of the agency director, but at the same time an autonomy that is left to them in the way they will have to achieve the results that are expected of them. Those responsible are clearly the senior officials concerned, it will be to take responsibility for failures and mistakes.

Aberbach, Putnam & Rockman (1981) : « Bureaucrats and Politicians in Western Democracies »[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

This typology is based on a criterion which is to know what is the role and degree of involvement of senior officials in the public policy cycle, to what extent senior officials are involved in the way policies are developed? If they're not involved at all, we'll be at the top of the board and the lower we go, the stronger the application.

M1: Policy / administration The classical doctrine (Wilson, Weber) of the separation between the (government) political and administrative functions. It is a model of complete separation of political power and administration which means no involvement of civil servants in all political tasks. He has a complete separation of the two.
M2: Facts / Interests Involvement of civil servants in public policy management: neutral expertise, advice. It is a model where public servants are involved in the management and implementation of public policies. They can bring expertise and advice, but they are not co-decision makers of the content of a public policy. They bring information, advice and expertise, but do not belong to, nor are they formally involved in the decision-making process.
M3: Energy / Equilibrium Involvement of civil servants in the management of public policies: conduct and adjust policies according to concrete situations. It is a model where civil servants can negotiate, are involved in the management of public policies and can, depending on the specific situation, negotiate how to implement public policy. There is room for manoeuvre and scope for interpretation that may exist, and this room for manoeuvre makes it possible to strike a balance between points of view that would be opposed or appear difficult to reconcile.
M4: Pure Hybrid The distinction between the two functions is gradually disappearing (the role of senior officials in all phases of the political decision-making process). The civil servant would be involved in defining objectives, defining social problems, defining solutions, etc. in the same way as political power.

B.G. Peters (1987) : « Politicians and Bureaucrats in the Politics of Policy-Making »[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Peters based himself on another criterion which is the criterion of the degree of conflict that can be observed in the relations between politics and administration. Are we in relations that are pacified or even connivance, consensus or are we in relations that are more conflictual? Peters identifies five models.

M1: Policy / administration The classical doctrine (Wilson, Weber) of the separation between the (government) political and administrative functions.

It is a model of separation, but with the administration subservient to political power. It is a model of separation with a clear hierarchy that is in favour of political power and political power dominates and tells the administration what it is going to do, there is no conflict.

M2: Village life Political leaders and public servants agree on the values and objectives being pursued.

Political leaders and civil servants see themselves as "thieves in fairgrounds", they agree on objectives, on values, on how to work, there is a very important agreement on how to conduct the administration.

M3: Functional village life Political leaders and civil servants from the same sector or field agree on the values and objectives pursued and develop special links with pressure groups.

In a given sector of public administration, there will be strong convergence between political power, incumbent ministers and public administration. A community of interest is established, but not at the level of the entire public administration, but at the level of a sector or function.

M4: Adversarial Conflicting relations between political leaders and public servants (whose outcome is uncertain)

We are in the presence of adversaries and therefore there is a conflict and disagreements that are strong between the public administration and the political power and we do not know in which direction these disagreements will go, we do not know if it is the public administration or the political power that will be able to win at the end and impose its point of view.

M5: Administrative Separation of political (government) and administrative functions for the benefit of senior officials.

We have a political power that would be completely apathetic, which ultimately means that public action is decided at the level of the senior public administration and not at the level of political power.

References[modifier | modifier le wikicode]