Partnership at the Organisation Level in the Public ServiceBoyle, Richard
pdf-Format: Dokument 1.pdf (347 KB)
|Dokumentart:||Bericht / Forschungsbericht / Abhandlung|
|Institut:||CPMR- Committee for Public Management Research|
|Schriftenreihe:||CPMR research report|
|BK - Basisklassifikation:||88.20 (Organisation staatlicher Einrichtungen, Management staatlicher Einrichtungen)|
Kurzfassung auf Englisch:
This report explores the role of partnership at the organisation level in promoting organisational change. The study is based on case study research, interviews and the international literature on the topic. The context for the paper is that, as recognised in Delivering Better Government (1996) and Partnership 2000 for Inclusion, Employment and Competitiveness (1996), if the Strategic Management Initiative is to take root in the Irish public service, management, unions and staff must be actively involved in its implementation. Four cases of a participative approach to change are studied: the Department of Defence, the Department of Finance, Aer Rianta and IBM Ireland. The rise of enterprise-based partnership as a means of doing business in organisations is traced in the study. Partnership approaches are shown to be part of a broad initiative in industrial relations to move from the adversarial system to one of mutual gains, where there is increasing employee involvement and participation in workplace change. A spectrum of possible partnership arrangements is identified, from greater consultation and information dissemination by management at one end to joint management, union and employee decision-making on workplace issues at the other extreme. Partnership approaches to change raise particular challenges for management, employees and unions. These challenges are addressed in the report. Managers must show active support for partnership, not revert to the old ways of doing things at the first sign of problems. They must also recognise and legitimise the time input needed to make partnership work. Employees representatives face a tension between involvement in new ways of working promoted by partnership and maintaining their role as employee representatives in collective bargaining. Both management and unions face the challenge of sharing their traditional access to decision-making with the staff of organisations. Unless these challenges are addressed, partnership may be initiated but then the initiative stalls or fails. Mechanisms to promote partnership are identified. A key role is identified for steering or co-ordinating groups, providing representative participation and setting the boundaries for partnership initiatives at the organisation level. Direct participation mechanisms are also outlines, as means of involving staff throughout the organisation. These include team-based working, employee forums, team briefings, newsletters, suggestion schemes, attitude surveys and performance appraisal. Training and development supports needed to foster partnership are also outlined. The need for information which sets the context for change through partnership is identified. So too is the need for joint training of managers, employees and their representatives. The need for a structured approach to training provision, targeted at particular groups and topic areas, is discussed. The study indicates that there can be no single model of partnership that is applicable in all situations: the range and mix of means used to promote partnership needs to be determined by the organisation itself. But there are guiding principles which provide a framework for the development of a partnership approach; there is more to partnership than taking a range of approaches and trying them out without thinking how they work together. In this context, the application of the lessons learnt from the cases studied, interviews and review of the literature to the Irish public service is addressed. The adversarial approach which has shaped the conduct of industrial relations in Ireland is outlined, as are recent developments aimed at promoting a move to a mutual gains or partnership approach to change. A number of key lessons are identified for those involved in developing partnership arrangements in government departments, offices and agencies: - There is a need for a clear structure which sets the boundaries for partnership arrangements. A departmental steering committee composed of management, union representatives and employees could provide such an enabling structure. - Incremental change focused at the local level is likely to be more successful at the start of the process and help develop confidence and trust. - A focus on incremental change should not be confused with small scale application of the partnership approach. Partnership arrangements must impact on the whole organisation. - The precise mix of initiatives to be used (task forces, surveys, focus groups etc.) must be customised to fit the particular working environment and culture of the department or office.
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