University of Limerick
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Reticent or robust reform? Charting the development of the central bureaucracy in Ireland

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posted on 2022-09-30, 11:33 authored by BERNADETTE CONNAUGHTONBERNADETTE CONNAUGHTON
Ireland is no different to other EU/OECD countries whereby ongoing reform is pursued in order to enhance the public sector’s capacity to deal with expanding policy competences, societal change and the demands of an international environment. The current fiscal crisis is the backdrop for a presentation of past and present reform initiatives in Irish public administration. The discussion utilises the conceptual lenses of longitudinal (historical) and normative (sociological) institutional approaches. It charts the development of the state bureaucracy and role of the civil service in four distinct periods - the early decades of independence, fiscal rectitude in the 1980s, the boom of the ‘Celtic Tiger’ and the impact of the fiscal crisis in 2009. Contemporary reform initiatives to promote the strategic capacity of the civil service will be considered in view of the critical importance of public sector reform for the return of economic competitiveness and a restoration of the public finances. It is argued that current reforms have modernised the civil service but have been of a largely technical nature and the ‘path dependency’ of specific institutional characteristics endures.



Limerick Papers in Politics and Public Administration;2010, No.2


University of Limerick, Department of Politics and Public Administration





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