Equality for Those Who Are Competent. Discourses on Competencies, Diversity and Equality in the Public Sector

  • Sarah Scheepers


Since the 1990s, public administrations in OECD countries have undergone fundamental reforms to become more efficient service providers. The changing global economy, dramatic technological change and increased expectations of government performance required new attention to a complex set of public skills and capacity (Šiugždiniene˙, 2006). The goal was to make state administrations operate more like privatesector companies, and so flattened hierarchies, modern management systems that increase accountability, performance management and the like were introduced. This evolution in public administration was captured under the name ‘new public management’ (NPM) (Pollit and Bouckaert, 2000). NPM practices augmented the demand for more functional and social diversity in public organizations. Otherwise, the reasoning was, the public sector would not be able to compete with private-sector organizations. In order to attract the most talented personnel, recruitment and selection of civil servants were based more on competencies and less on rigid criteria such as diploma requirements. Competency management was seen as a neutral way of selecting the ‘best’ person for the job and it became part of modern human resources management (HRM).


Human Resource Management Affirmative Action Public Administration Equal Opportunity Diversity Policy 
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© Sarah Scheepers 2011

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  • Sarah Scheepers

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