Civil service reform in developing countries

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Civil service reform is a deliberate action to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, professionalism, representativity and democratic character of a civil service, with a view to promoting better delivery of public goods and services, with increased accountability. Such actions can include data gathering and analysis, organizational restructuring, improving human resource management and training, enhancing pay and benefits while assuring sustainability under overall fiscal constraints, and strengthening measures for public participation, transparency, and combating corruption.

Important differences between developing countries and developed countries require that civil service and other reforms first rolled out in developed countries be carefully adapted to local conditions in developing countries.



Data and Diagnostics

Structure of the Public Sector

  • OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development). 1996. "Civil Service Legislation Contents Checklist." SIGMA Papers No. 5. Paris:
  • OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development). 1996. "Civil Service Legislation: Checklist On Secondary Legislation (and other Regulatory Instruments)" SIGMA Papers No. 14. Paris: OECD/SIGMA.
  • Schiavo-Campo, Salvatore and Hazel M. McFerson, 2008. Public Management in Global Perspective. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, pp. 70–123 .
  • Clay G Wescott 2006. “Decentralization Policy and Practice in Viet Nam: 1991-2001”, in Paul Smoke, Eduardo Gomez and George Peterson, eds. Decentralization in Asia and Latin America: A Comparative Interdisciplinary Perspective, Edward Elgar Press, Northampton, Mass.
  • Clay G Wescott 2005. "Improving Road Administration in the Asia-Pacific Region: some Lessons from Experience" in Kidd J B & Richter F-J (eds). Infrastructure and Productivity in Asia: Political, Financial, Physical and Intellectual Capital underpinnings, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 123–43.
  • Wilson, James Q, 1989. Bureaucracy. NY: Basic Books, pp. 154–75.
  • World Bank, 2000. Architecture of the Public Sector.

Personnel Management

Combating Corruption

  • Bräutigam, D. & Knack, S. 2004. “Foreign Aid, Institutions, and Governance in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Economic Development and Cultural Change, Volume 52, Number 2, January.
  • Campos, J. Edgardo and Sanjay Pradhan, 2007. The Many Faces of Corruption. Washington, DC: World Bank.
  • Ear, Sophal. 2007. "Does Aid Dependence Worsen Governance?" International Public Management Journal, 10 (3): 259–286.
  • Wescott, C. 2003. “Combating Corruption in Southeast Asia”, in Kidd J B & Richter F-J, eds. Fighting Corruption In Asia: Causes, Effects and Remedies. Singapore, World Scientific Press,
  • Robert Williams and Robin Theobald, Eds. 1986. The Politics of Corruption (4 vol). Northampton, Mass.: Elgar Reference Collection.

Issues for Reform

Engaging support for reform