Distinguishing the real from the surreal in management reform: suggestions for beleaguered administrators in the government of Canada

to appear in Centre fro Gloabl Studies

Ian D. Ckark and Harry Swain

Published: June 2005

Keywords: government, framework, administrator, Fiscal Federalism


The authors believe that management reform initiatives can be jeopardized by the government-wide application of idealized management frameworks. They suggest that, according to what they call "the law of mandated utopias," the resultant management requirements become surreal in the eyes of departmental managers. The authors explore the ethical and practical dilemmas caused by the conflict between a public servant's duty to comply with centrally imposed requirements and the duty to manage people and public monies in a sensible way. The current management improvement initiatives in the Government of Canada are used to demonstrate the practical limitations of the conceptual frameworks associated with performance measurement, performance audit, modern comptrollership and human resources development. Suggestions are offered on how to improve management in departments while dealing with the surreal requirements generated by government-wide reforms based on utopian frameworks.

Disciplines: Governance

Publication: SurrealManagement150605-a.pdf