Implementation of New Public Management (NPM) in Emergent Countries: Cultural Factors

By: Anouar Hasbaoui

(Senior Researcher)

Since the last 20th century decade, the NPM has been widely adopted in most developed countries. The new management style has benefited to all stakeholders: individuals, corporations, nonprofit organizations, even public administrations, and generally, the rest of the world. They all benefit from the implementation of performance criteria such as: efficiency, efficacy, and accountability.

The success of NPM practices has influenced many emergent countries to introduce this new philosophy to their respective public administrations. Everything being equal, NPM attempts to dilute intensively structural issues that are lessening the anticipated results to ongoing public policies, the opportunity costs of failed public policies execution are so apparent and become strategic concerns especially to countries with limited resources. Thus, NPM is not considered as optional but is imposed as obligatory in order to boost the country development, which will guarantee highly social equity, community satisfaction and economic growth.

The implementation of NPM in most developed countries was smooth, easy and rapidly accepted by the senior public officers, collaborators, assistants…etc, viewing the new style as a levy to increase their performance and their accountability.

In contrast, the environment in most emergent countries is not favoring fluid and less costly transition to the adoption of outperformed management style. Many reports highlight[1] the conditions and the atmosphere predominating in less developed countries public sector.

What is the most efficient process to establish a NPM?

Answering the question requires the inclusion of many factors such as: the flexibility and soundness of legislation, quality of the infrastructure, and administration culture…etc.
The focus will be on the latter one since it drives people responsiveness to any major change, no matter how sound is the legislature corps or how developed is the infrastructure, the culture prevailed within public administration environment is very capital to a prompt and efficient transition to NPM.

In fact, the values highly anchored determine the achievement of organizational change. It is worthwhile to differentiate between individual values and beliefs and organizational culture. The first one is determined by the agent background (personal, academic, past professional experience…etc), and also by the impact of the prevailed organization’s culture.

Organization culture can be approached as the accumulation of individual values, perception and attitude towards the administration as Unit. For instance, subordinate satisfaction can strongly impact daily performances as well as strategic ones; the respect of laws and codes contributes to build the administration’s culture. Also, collaborators’ resistance to change constitutes a major limit; they consider any change as a threat to their stability and their existing privileges.

For performing public administration, a sincere collaboration should substitute to ego-centrism and hypocrisy; directors and chief executives have to fully understand subordinates attitude and perception, in order to anticipate and understand collaborators actions and reactions.

Consequently, it will possible to monitor any desired change with less cost and resistance.
In practice, this action is not easy to operate but it is worthwhile to be managed with the help of cultural change experts that can wisely plan to shape employees transition to desired culture.

Moreover, governments have to encourage academic research projects that focus on organizational change within public administration. The outcomes can definitely help to manage change based on scientific and objective principles and steps.

Governments also have to reinforce any successful cultural change by allocating; objectively and with based and predetermined criteria, financial and non-financial incentives to officers with more commitment to the organization new philosophy.

It is truly accepted that fostering individual values and ethics will benefit to the organization culture; any effort managed at the micro economic side has direct impact on the whole entity.

One of the most prominent values to develop at the individual level is the providence of help. According to recent study of McKinsey, the highest performing organizations are those who have intensive degree of employees mutual help, in contrary, organizations with less sense of cooperation are struggling to achieve their assigned objectives.

Another cultural value is assessed through the degree of team spirit prevailed among organization members.
Senior officers as well as directors have to reinforce these two values among many others in order to boost the competitiveness of their structure, to reduce the internal cost, to dilute the hidden conflicts, and lastly to ensure employees integration and commitment into any new policy change.

The emphasis on culture change in public administration environment is ultimately appreciated not only on financial matters but also on the quality of the service delivered.

Moreover, citizens in their daily affairs with public officers will notice valuable concrete change, which will encourage them to cooperate with the public administrators for the well being of both parties to create sustainable relation.

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