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Assessing the Belgian mandate system from an international comparative perspective (MANDATE)

Research project TA/00/19 (Research action TA)

Persons :

Description :

• Themes

One of the objectives of the Copernicus reform was the introduction of a managerial public service "bargain".
Based on Hood’s typology of Public Service Bargains (PSB), the network has distinguished three variables to characterise the contractualisation of civil servants: identity or role perception, institutional relations and performance management system (Hood, 1998; 2000). These three variables determine the first research question. RQ1: Does the introduction of a mandate system imply a shift in civil servants' identity, institutional relations and performance management system?

However, In practice, very few countries have adopted the managerial bargain. Most of them have moved to a hybrid managerial system. This leads to the second research question. RQ2: Do bargains require that identity, institutional relations and performance management system all make a shift in the same direction?

• Objectives

This research has two goals and two objectives namely:

-Goal 1: to deliver a contribution to an empirical foundation of the PSB model, and in particular the transition from a consociational to a managerial PSB.
-Goal 2: to increase the scientific knowledge of senior civil servants contracts and their impact in the context of public management reforms.
-Objective 1: to benchmark the Belgian federal mandate system to international PSBs by empirically testing the managerial public service bargain.
-Objective 2: A gap analysis of the mandate system after 5 years of Copernicus, based on our research framework.

• Methodology

The research project consists of three phases: 1) the construction of scales based on the three variables mentioned above; 2) international comparative research; 3) an assessment of the Belgian mandate system.

1. A scale will be developed in order to measure the evolution of each variable. A focus group composed of top civil servnat will be organised in order to validate the scales. These scales will also be used to develop the Self-Assessment Tool adapted to the Belgian federal public services.

2. The network will select four international case studies for the international comparison. Data from an earlier research made by the Public Management Institute (Hondeghem and Putseys, 2003) will be compared with data on the current situation in order to define, for each of these countries and at two period of time, a position on the scales. This will lead to two results for each country (2000, 2008). The updating of data will be undertaken by a literature review and by interviews with experts from different countries.

3. The network will then proceed to a comprehensive evaluation of the mandate system in order to define the position of the Belgian federal system on the scales. An evaluation of the implementation of mandates will also be achieved by means of an instrument of self-assessment. This will be carried out for various types of federal public services. The benchmarks will be established to identify and explain the differences in the implementation of federal mandates and to make suggestions to improve the system through a process of mutual learning.

• Results and outputs

Expected Results

1. Outcomes for theory Building.
- Empirical validation of Hood’s typology of public service bargains.
- Assess the impact of the introduction of the system of mandates in different countries

2. Outcomes for policy making.
- provides a better understanding of the Belgian mandate system, especially by a gap analysis of the mandate system after its introduction.
- develop a self-assessment tool that will provide civil servants with the possibility to evaluate the mandate system and enforce a mutual learning process.

Products Expected

I. Project's website: create a web site with an "e-community" functionality to coordinate and share information and knowledge among partners and to target audience for the project.
II. Scientific publications: the dissemination of project results will be achieved by publishing in international journals.
III. "Papers": the network will present the project at international conferences, such as those organized by GEAP, NISPA, ASPA and the OECD.
IV. The creation of a Self-Assessment Tool that can be used by federal officials outside of this project to improve the management process within the federal administration.

Documentation :

Het mandaatsysteem in de federale overheid geplaatst in een internationaal perspectief: synthese    Brussel : Federaal Wetenschapsbeleid, 2011 (SP2438)
[To download

Etude du système de mandat dans l’administration fédérale belge dans une perspective internationale: synthèse    Bruxelles : Politique scientifique fédérale, 2011 (SP2439)
[To download

The mandate system in federal government in an international perspective: summary    Brussels : Federal Science Policy, 2011 (SP2440)
[To download

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