The Dutch decentralized unitary state and its effects on civil service systems in the period of the Night Watch, Welfare and Enabling States 1814–2016

Frits van der Meer, Gerrit Dijkstra, Toon Kerkhoff

Abstract


The central question on our article is: to what extent were the nature and content of merit principles for Dutch civil service systems influenced by the (changing) decentralized unitary state, during the periods of the Night Watch, Welfare and Enabling State between 1814 and 2016? In accordance with the decentralized unitary structure as originally de  vised by the 19th century Dutch statesman Johan Rudolf Thorbecke, personnel management and regulations were (and are) considered the prime responsibility of each (level of) government. Our article shows how neither in past nor present have there been hierarchical relationships in this area, with the exception of centralized wage settlements after the Second World War until the 1990s. In addition, we argue that civil service requirements have altered due to societal and public sector change. Those changes have become visible in a transition from a Night Watch to a Welfare State and more recently an Enabling State. This transition not only influenced what was expected of the role and position of civil servants at different levels of government in the decentralized unitary state. It also had an effect on what has over time been required of civil servants in terms of knowledge, capabilities, attitude, skills and experience. The article explains how the Thorbeckian decentralized unitary state provided a lasting but flexible format to accommodate these civil service system adjustments. 

 

<h4>About the Authors</h4>

Frits van der Meer is CAOP professor in comparative public sector and civil service reform and working at the Leiden Institute of Public Administration. Besides his work on comparative civil service reform and comparative bureaucracy he has written extensively on administrative history of the Netherlands. He is also heading the Leiden centre for Public Sector Reform.


Gerrit Dijkstra works as a senior lecturer at the Leiden Institute of Public Administration. His research is on the intersecting lines between law and public administration and more particular on the consequences of legal dimensions for Public Administration. He has published extensively amongst others on juridification of PA, the relationship between citizen and administration, the issue how to embed accountability, responsiveness and, responsibility within performance management and civil service systems.


Toon Kerkhoff works as a senior lecturer at the Leiden Institute of Public Administration. His research and teaching are characterized by a continuous and consistent historical approach to core questions in public administration and politics; most notably corruption, integrity, public values and civil service reform. 

 

Schlagworte


Geschichte; Verwaltung; Verwaltungsgeschichte; History; Administration; History of Administration; Gouvernementalität; Politik; Regierung; Staat; Niederlande;

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