Public Personnel Management
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Public Personnel Management

Contexts and Strategies

Jared J. Llorens, Donald E. Klingner, John Nalbandian

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eBook - ePub

Public Personnel Management

Contexts and Strategies

Jared J. Llorens, Donald E. Klingner, John Nalbandian

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About This Book

Now in a thoroughly revised7th edition, Public Personnel Management focuses on the critical issues and common processes in the management of public sector personnel. In keeping with prior editions, the text centers on the core processes within public human resource management: strategic workforce planning, effective recruitment and retention, workforce development, and employee relations. Designed to further address the ways in which expectations for human resource managers have changed and developed in recent years, the7th edition includes several new features and improvements:

  • Substantially restructured, updated, and additional case studies and student exercises.
  • Coverage of how the field of Public HRM has been influenced by the two most recent national recessions, economic downturns at the state and local level, privatization and contracting trends at all levels of government, the growing presence of millennial employees in the workplace, issues surrounding social media use within the workplace, the evolving goals of social equity and diversity, and the shifting role and influence of labor unions.
  • Discussions of how the growth in information technology capabilities has influenced the major processes within HRM, from workforce analysis through big data analytics to the explosion in automated recruitment, assessment, and instructional technologies.
  • For the first time, the text includes an online Instructor's Manual, PowerPoint slides, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading to make it even easier to assign and use this classic text in the classroom.

Providing the most up-to-date and thorough overview of the history and practice of public human resource management for both undergraduate and graduate students, Public Personnel Management, 7e remains the beloved text it ever was, ideal for introductory courses in Public Personnel Management, Public Human Resource Management, and Nonprofit Personnel Management.

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Chapter 1

Throughout the world, public personnel management (also known as human resource management, HRM, or human capital management) is widely recognized as essential for effective government. Increasingly, as we come to view the shared role of governments, private corporations, and international development organizations (governance) as the key to sustainable development, we recognize that, throughout the world, human resources are potentially available yet, in practice, wasted. Interrelated global conditions—economic, political, social, and environmental—define the new millennium. Some are positive: Economic development and increased government capacity in countries such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China raise hopes of a global trend toward stable, transparent, and representative governance. Others are negative: Global climate change, endemic poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, endemic violence in “hot spots” such as Syria and Afghanistan, and the continued fragility of Middle Eastern states threaten complex and fragile governance networks. Whether positive or negative, these conditions substantially affect administrative culture, and thus how HRM systems develop in practice.
By the End of This Chapter, You Will Be Able to
  1. Define the functions needed to manage human resources.
  2. Explain why public jobs are scarce resources.
  3. Describe the four traditional values that underlie the conflict over public jobs.
  4. Discuss some consequences of these emergent HRM practices on state civil service reform efforts and traditional values.
  5. Describe the history of public personnel management in the United States as one of conflict and compromise among competing personnel systems and values.
  6. Explore the relationship between economic development and governance capacity, and propose an agenda for strengthening merit systems in transitional or fragile states.
TABLE 1-1 Human Resource Management Functions
Function Purpose

Planning Budget preparation, workforce planning; performance management, job analysis, and pay and benefits
Acquisition Recruitment and selection of employees
Development Training, evaluating, and leading employees to increase their willingness and ability to perform well
Sanction Maintaining expectations and obligations that employees and the employer have toward one another through discipline, health and safety, and employee rights

Human Resource Management Functions

First, HRM comprises the four fundamental functions needed to manage human resources in public, private, and nonprofit organizations. These functions, designated by the acronym PADS, are planning, acquisition, development, and sanction. Table 1–1 presents them along with the personnel activities that comprise them.

Public Jobs as Scarce Resources

Second, public jobs are scarce resources. Public jobs include private or nonprofit sector jobs funded through government contracts. Tax revenues limit them. Their allocation is enormously significant for public policymaking. Because jobs are how we commonly measure economic and social status and because public jobs are scarce and important, individuals and groups compete for them.

The Four Traditional Values

Third, public personnel management is the continuous interaction among fundamental values that often conflict because they reflect key differences over who gets public jobs and how, and over job security. Whereas most prominent in hiring and separation decisions, these value considerations affect any personnel action that allocates scarce resources or opportunities. Traditionally, conflict in the United States has centered around four values:
  • Political responsiveness and representation —an appointment process that considers personal loyalty and political support as indicators of merit.
  • Efficiency —making staffing decisions based on applicants’ and employees’ abilities and performance.
  • Employee rights —protecting employees from political interference or arbitrary treatment that may threaten their job security or interfere with their job performance.
  • Social equity —adequately representing all groups in the workforce and managing this diverse workforce to maintain productivity and a positive organizational culture.

The Four Traditional Public HRM Systems: Patronage, Civil Service, Collective Bargaining, and Equal Employment Opportunity

Fourth, public HRM comprises multiple public management systems or processes. These include the laws, rules, organizations, and procedures used to fulfill the four personnel functions in ways that express abstract values. There are four traditional systems: patronage, merit (civil service), collective bargaining, and equal employment opportunity. Civil service is the predominant traditional system and the only complete system because it includes all four functions and can incorporate all four competing values. It dominates HRM culture in countries that have invested heavily in economic development.

Political Patronage

Public jobs in the United States were initially shared among elite leaders—the small group of upper-class property owners who had led the American Revolution, which won independence from England, and established a national government in 1789. The passing of this generation of “founding fathers” led to the emergence of a political system based around political parties. By the 1830s, this in turn created a patronage system that rewarded party members and campaign workers with jobs once their candidate was elected. This “spoils system” expanded as the size and functions of government grew after the Civil War (1861–1865). Political patronage refers to the legislative or executive approval of individual hiring decisions, particularly for policymaking positions, based on the applicant’s personal loyalty to the appointing official, or political support among stakeholders the appointing official represents. The elected officials who nominate political appointees may also fire them at any time. Whereas the patronage system does not necessarily result in the selection of highly qualified employees or provision of efficient government services, it does enable elected officials to achieve political objectives by placing loyal supporters in key positions in administrative agencies. Moreover, it increases political responsiveness because elected officials get reelected by providing stakeholders with access to administrative agencies during the policymaking process. As an example of how patronage systems work in practice, the General Accountability Office (GAO) publishes the Plum Book —a listing of U.S. federal government policy and supporting positions—immediately following each presidential election.1 As of 2016, there were over 9,000 executive and legislative support positions that fell within the realm of patronage, non-competitive appointments. As one might imagine, filling such a large number of positions on a patronage basis is daunting and time-consuming, and following recent elections, the White House personnel operations have resorted to the use of online application processes for political appointments.2

Civil Service (Merit) Systems

In the United States, the period between 1883 and 1937 is important in the development of public personnel administration based on merit principles. With increased pressures for rational and transparent government and increased demands for more effective delivery of public services to meet the needs of an industrializing economy came increased dissatisfaction with patronage-based personnel systems. First, in progressive state governments such as New York and then in the federal government, voters and reform organizations such as the National Civic League demanded merit-based HRM. The assassination of newly inaugurated President Garfield by an unsuccessful office-seeker in 1881 was a defining event that led Congress to approve the Pendleton Act (1883), marking a fundamental shift from patronage to merit systems.4 The principles in Table 1–2 reflect the civil service ideal— the belief that a competent, committed workforce of career civil servants is essential to the professional conduct of the public’s business.5
TABLE 1-2 Merit System Principles3
1. Recruitment should be from qualified individuals from appropriate sources in an endeavor to achieve a workforce from all segments of society, and selection and advanceme...

Table of contents

Citation styles for Public Personnel Management
APA 6 Citation
Llorens, J., Klingner, D., & Nalbandian, J. (2017). Public Personnel Management (7th ed.). Taylor and Francis. Retrieved from (Original work published 2017)
Chicago Citation
Llorens, Jared, Donald Klingner, and John Nalbandian. (2017) 2017. Public Personnel Management. 7th ed. Taylor and Francis.
Harvard Citation
Llorens, J., Klingner, D. and Nalbandian, J. (2017) Public Personnel Management. 7th edn. Taylor and Francis. Available at: (Accessed: 15 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
Llorens, Jared, Donald Klingner, and John Nalbandian. Public Personnel Management. 7th ed. Taylor and Francis, 2017. Web. 15 Oct. 2022.