Making Sense of Staff Participation Within Public Management Reform

  • David Farnham
  • Annie Hondeghem
  • Sylvia Horton


Most studies of public management reform focus on ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions and pay little attention to the role of stakeholders who are affected by it or play a part in the reform process. There is also an implicit or explicit assumption underlying most analyses of public management reform that it is a top-down process dominated by decision-making elites of top politicians, mandarins and political advisors (Halligan 2002, Pollitt and Bouckaert 2004). This study has concentrated on the influence of one key actor in public management reform: staff and their representative organizations. Staff participation has been analysed in terms of ‘indirect staff participation’ and ‘direct staff participation’. Indirect staff participation was defined as those power-based arrangements either across organizations (i.e., covering more than one employer) or within organizations (i.e., covering a single employer or an undertaking) that enable workers, employees or public officials to take part in those policy or managerial decisions affecting their daily working lives such as pay, terms, conditions, benefits and procedures of employment relations including discipline and grievances. Direct staff participation is a wider-based concept than indirect participation and consists of all those management-driven initiatives directed at involving individual employees or workgroups in the workplace.


Civil Service Collective Bargaining Power Distance Public Management Reform Process 
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Copyright information

© David Farnham, Annie Hondeghem and Sylvia Horton 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Farnham
    • 1
    • 2
  • Annie Hondeghem
    • 3
  • Sylvia Horton
    • 4
  1. 1.University of PortsmouthEngland
  2. 2.Universities of Greenwich and East LondonEngland
  3. 3.Public Management InstituteCatholic University of LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  4. 4.School of Social, Historical and Literary StudiesUniversity of PortsmouthEngland

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