n Journal of Public Administration - A caveat on public management reform and corruption prevention

Volume 43, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



Reforming the public service has been the main pre-occupation of most governments for more than two decades. The public service should be more efficient and effective, provide for greater accountability and simultaneously reduce costs to the taxpayer - all at the expense of the traditional bureaucracy. In this article the main tenets of administrative reform are described as experienced by most public services. This modernisation process has been accompanied by expectations, both amongst political leaders and citizens. However, in this publication the author proposes a more subdued approach to the fuss and fanfare created around public sector reform. It is argued that discarding the bureaucracy - and replacing it with business-like practices - does not necessarily solve the problems concerning efficiency and effectiveness. Focusing on corruption and its inhibiting consequences for service delivery, the author indicates how strategies to prevent corruption have taken on the character of the wider reform agenda. It is argued that instead of reducing corruption, new opportunities for corruption have been created. Among many purposes, public sector reform serves to legitimise governments. Political leaders engage in rhetoric to serve their selfish interest by that something is being done to fix the ills of the bureaucracy. This article proposes that public sector reform should be approached with caution and careful consideration.

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