Public Sector Reform in Central and Eastern Europe

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Geert Bouckaert


In an OECD report entitled Government of the Future (2000), the question “Why public management reform?” is answered in three ways. First, governments need to keep up with society in terms of responsiveness and better, faster and more services. Second, trust in government needs to be re-established. A third reason is that government’s role is changing under new pressures including the loss of the government monopoly, greater competition, the opening-up of societies and international structures. However, for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), the starting positions, the challenges, the capacity to change, and the initial objectives were quite different from most of the Western European countries, except for, e.g., Portugal or Spain. (OECD 2005). In a first part, this essay will cover spans of public-sector reform which may be narrow or broad. In a second part, trajectories of reform, which are not linear but progressing in a corrective way, will be discussed. In a third and final part, remaining issues of reform practice and study are discussed.

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