An analysis of administrative reforms in Pakistan’s public sector
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AbstractContext: Despite a long history of reforms, Pakistan‘s public sector (PS) is still considered cumbersome, corrupt, and inefficient by its citizens, government and international development community. Recent reforms were operationalised in 2001 under a new economic policy called the Poverty Reduction Programme (PRP) designed to facilitate the New Public Management (NPM) influenced transformation. The overarching objectives of these reforms were to strengthen the market and public sector simultaneously and so that they complemented each other. The PS reform actions taken under this strategy were mainly based on the World Bank‘s (WB) experience of developing countries which identified the state‘s weak institutional capacity as bottleneck to this transformation. Therefore, with the view to removing these impediments, actions to train the public servants, improve their salaries, and enhanced the use of information technology (IT) were included. However, many recent reports and indicators confirm the situation in Pakistan has remained unchanged. Various generic explanations of these compromised results have been provided; however, the concrete reasons in a Pakistani setting are still unknown. Research Questions: This study aims to investigate the reasons why Pakistan‘s PS organisations appear to be resistant to reform and why the repeated attempts at reform appear to have had so little impact. It addresses the following questions: What effects, if any, have NPM-inspired reform attempts had on the way that public sector organisations function? What have been the intended and unintended consequences of reform attempts? Research approach: This case study aims to bridge this gap through analysing the effects of administrative reforms in the federal tax agency where these actions have been revived as a part of the comprehensive reform programme. This study is qualitative and adopts a social constructionist approach. This case study is ethnographically oriented and works within pragmatist criteria of truth and validity; the case study organisation has been conceptualised as negotiated order (Strauss, 1978); and the initiatives of training, salaries and information technology are understood as managerial attempts to reshape organisational structures, processes, and the employment relationship with employees in line with the requirements of NPM. This research mainly depends on the interpretation and analysis of data gathered through 22 semi-structured interviews, participant observation and documentary sources of information including public and classified reports from donors and government repositories as well as published scholarly articles. The data were analysed in two stages: 1. abstract analysis took place during data collection, arranging, cleaning, and extraction of themes and patterns; and 2. firm analysis happened through an iterative process of comparing these themes, patterns, and field notes to make the sense of data. Findings: The findings suggest that the desired results of efficiency, transparency, fairness, and controlling corruption could not be achieved due to the takeover of prevalent contextual corrupt practices of nepotism, favouritism and recommendation at the time of its implementation. Moreover, this content-focused approach has also ignored the context and processes that led to compromised results. I have supported these findings through the identification of these contextual problems at the organisational and national levels. Contribution: This research contributed to a greater understanding of the initiation and implementation processes of the NPM-inspired PSR in Pakistan through the identification of factors limiting its results at organisational and national levels. In turn, it helped to highlight the problems behind reformer‘s taken for granted assumptions of quick-fixing the institutions through rapid dosage of reform. The results will also be valuable to reformers as they will not only help reformers to understand the reasons affecting its intended results but also help them to include these in the list of safeguard.
CitationIqbal, F. (2014) 'An analysis of administrative reforms in Pakistan’s public sector'. PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
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