NIGArchivesAnnual Workconference 2014Panel overviewPanel 8: The use of governance skills in dynamic bureaucratic contexts

The use of governance skills in dynamic bureaucratic contexts

Panel 8: The use of governance skills in dynamic bureaucratic contexts

Chaired by: dr. Peter Kruyen (RU), dr. Marieke van Genugten (RU), dr. Peter Hupe (EUR) , ,

What do we expect from public servants? In their daily work, whether they have a desk job as policy advisor, or are working at the street-level, public servants continuously have to respond to multiple accountabilities. These multiple accountabilities often imply conflicting obligations and challenges resulting from juridical requirements, policy objectives, professional standards, angry citizens and so forth. Moreover, these work-related demands are in a constant state of flux due to the continuous stream of budget cuts, organizational reforms, changes in public management philosophies, and variation in citizens’ expectations.

The goal of this panel is to explore which person-bound skills individual public servants use in different contexts to deal effectively with various work-related demands in their daily work. These skills—coined ‘governance skills’ (Hupe, 2011)—may include functional competences, attitudes, and behavior. What are the characteristics of these skills and how can they be measured? Which skills are used in a particular context, what factors influence the presence of these skills and what is the impact of the usage of these skills on public sector performance?

Five types of sub-questions are of particular interest to the panel.

1.What do we expect of public servants in terms of governance skills (e.g., loyalty, accountability, political sensitivity, change willingness, pro-activity, creativity)?

2.To what extent and how do public servants actually use governance skills in their daily work?

3.Which factors determine which skills are required, or rather seem appropriate, in a specific context (e.g., juridical requirements, policy requisites, task demands, budget fluctuations, management style, political ambitions)?

4.What do we know about the effects of governance skills on employee satisfaction, turn-over intention, and performance?

5.How can we advance the study of governance skills using both quantitative and qualitative research (e.g., methodological issues which are related to the study of macro-micro links in organizational research, including the use of psychological measures, structural equation modeling, and problems caused by linking different units of analyses).

The panel welcomes conceptual and empirical papers both from Public Administration scholars and interdisciplinary research teams.

Relationship between the panel and the NIG research program

Our panel is related to the ‘Public Management’ subtheme of the NIG research program. Specifically, our panel is linked to the knowledge goal ‘Public Management in Professional Organizations’ although we focus on characteristics of employees and not on management practice.

Moreover, our panel is loosely connected to the ‘Evaluation of impacts of public management reforms’ and ‘Multi-Actor Governance in Complexity’ knowledge goals in so far required governance skills, appropriate to the context at hand, may depend upon changes in organizational structures or institutional reforms.