To support local government redesign efforts and recognize the innovative work already underway, the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center has partnered with state associations to create the Local Government Innovation & Redesign Guide and host a yearly Local Government Innovations Awards ceremony.
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Part Two of our blog posting series on the 2010 European Academy of Management (EURAM) Conference can be found below. Topics in this post include Gender and Management, Strategic Management and some concluding thoughts. Enjoy!
Gender and Management
Some presenters warned about gender inequities resulting from European reforms (under the New Public Management rubric) that focused on making government agencies and universities more competitive, business- and customer-friendly, and performance-oriented. Recent and anticipated public budget cutbacks are reinforcing these inequities. For example, presenters found signs that these reforms were shifting funding toward education in "hard" sciences and business enterprise and undermining the "soft" sciences where women play a stronger role. One presenter noted the already slow progress of women moving up in the higher education ranks. In the UK, only 16% of women faculty members are professors, 31% are senior lecturers and 41% are lecturers. (I'm not sure about the job titles of the remaining 12 %.) At current rates, as one presenter noted, parity would be achieved in 2070.
Public strategic management appears to be embedded in the European Union, including in the European Commission, although it is most prominent in the more developed parts of the EU. The New Public Management (NPM), as it is called, is also fairly widespread, although there are clear difficulties (as there are everywhere) with moving to strongly decentralized and market- based solutions to public problems. Several speakers saw public strategic management as providing a set of concepts, procedures, and tools for coping with the challenges of public problems and the shortcomings of NPM. The emphasis on the importance of governance, as opposed to solely government, was also evidenced. The "New Public Governance" was clearly in ascendance among the speakers.
In the "Socially Responsible Management" track there were several interesting papers. One pointed out that in Portugal the largest firms have adopted many "family-responsible" policies. However, there is a clear discrepancy between what management and employees think about the worth of these policies, with management believing that they are worth more than employees do. Since the policies are important for a variety of public purposes beyond the companies' own (e.g., having enough employees to fund state pensions), some questions remain about what should be done, if anything, to reduce the discrepancies in assessments of worth. Another paper made a persuasive case that socially responsible management has now been incorporated into the implicit "valuation models" used by stock analysts and that companies experience a boost in their stock price by actually adopting (rather than just claiming that they have) socially responsible policies. In addition, two other papers provided superb reviews of the collaboration literature, one focusing on design questions and the other on environmentally-oriented public-private partnerships.
Another panel focusing on public strategic management revealed that Italian government ministries use strategic management to varying degrees, which matches US government experience. In addition, several regions in Austria have strategic approaches to "destination management" (i.e., for tourism). Iranian public organizations also use strategic management with varied, generally quite positive, effects. There was also a fascinating paper on what leads employees in Belgian organizations to embrace their organization's mission; proactive management action makes a difference.
The final conclusion is that public strategic management is alive and well in Europe, but like any management approach (e.g., to budgeting, audit, control), it is not "one-size-fits all."
Speakers at the EURAM conference supported - both explicitly and implicitly - reform of academic business teaching away from what they described as the American competitive, short-term model. They called for deeper understanding of the globalized economy, attention to ethical issues and history, and better understanding of how technology and innovation can be used to handle modern challenges.
The opening sessions on the history of management were also quite valuable in pointing out that management has been with us for a very long time. For example, one presentation focused how the Venetians managed the state when they were the unrivaled economic masters of the Western world in the late medieval period. Another focused on management in the Qing dynasty of Chinese, where "small central government" was done well for hundreds of years until the early 20th century. Clearly, public management did not begin with Woodrow Wilson and Frederick Taylor!
In sum, the best European public management scholarship is clearly very good and very interesting. This conference may be something to consider attending in the future. Other worthwhile European venues include the International Research Society for Public Management, meeting next April in Dublin; the International Public Management Network Conference (usually in June); and the European Group on Organizational Studies, the largest of all European management-related conferences.