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The patterns and dynamics of the civil service pay reform in Korea

Nam, Ju Hyun (2016) The patterns and dynamics of the civil service pay reform in Korea. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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In the years following the economic crisis of 1997, Korean policymakers have focused on reforming the civil service by introducing New Public Management (NPM) ideas and practices. By the involvement of top decision-makers to individual central government departments, attempts were made to enhance the materialistic incentive, to reinforce performance management, and to improve flexibility and efficiency of government organisations. Despite these endeavours, the public management reforms in Korea seems to have not yet reached the expected goals. In the search of the cause of such discrepancy, this study investigated the developmental process of four representative civil service pay reform cases, namely, (1) public-private pay balance, (2) performance-related pay, (3) total payroll cost management, and (4) senior civil service pay. In order to do this, the data was collected from relevant documents and archives, such as government publications and newspapers, as well as interviews with 39 policymakers and experts. The analyses of the cases show how different motives and behaviours of key actors the president and core departments- led to varying degrees of attainment in terms of the outcomes of the reform. While NPM-inspired institutions were transplanted in appearance with necessary legal regulations and arrangements established by enactment in the initiating phase, the effectiveness and sustainability of the reform was limited due to the shift of ownership of the reform from the president to core departments in the consolidating phase. This created a pattern which included cyclic fluctuations of an ambitious start, speedy introduction of a new system, and apparent or hidden retreat or maintenance. This study argues that insufficient reform outcomes stem from the relationship between the president and core departments, which was transformed from the agency-type (owner-agent) relationship into the trustee-type Public Service Bargains (PSB) (autonomous department). In this context, this study contributes to the existing knowledge by providing insights into the reform process. Firstly, it expands the theory of NPM by presenting the details of convergence and divergence in the case of the Korean civil service. Secondly, this research suggests the Korean civil service reform model that implies the significance of reform ownership and monitoring process. Finally, this study suggests a concept of “dual identity” of bureaucracy as the object and subject of the reform. It is hoped that the implications of reform dynamics will be helpful to policy practitioners in developing countries that aim to initiate a civil service reform with reference to NPM.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2016 Ju Hyun Nam
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Dunleavy, Patrick

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