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Building the Capacity for Managing Public Service Reform: The Tanzania Experience

Discussion Paper 57q

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January 2007

Morgan, P; Baser, H. 2007. Building the capacity for managing public service reform. The Tanzania experience. (Discussion Paper 57q). Maastricht: ECDPM.

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This case study is about how Tanzania went about building its capacity to manage a complex process of institutional and organizational change. With the agreement of the Government, it concentrates on the topic of capacity development for change management within the public sector.

The main unit of analysis is thus the President’s Office, Public Service Management (PO-PSM) unit as a change manager within the public service rather than the Public Service Reform Programme (PSRP) as such.

Key Messages

The Tanzanian approach to capacity and performance improvement favored the reform of existing public sector organizations rather than the creation of new ones. While taking this approach, the government tried to build both long- and short-term horizons into the implementation of the PSRP.

The Public Service Management (PO-PSM) unit initially functioned as a project implementation unit set up to manage public service reform as a conventional aid project.

The main strategy for putting in place individual competencies needed in the unit was that of selection and recruitment, i.e. a ‘buy’ rather than a ‘make’ option. Formal staff training took place but was not a high priority in the PO-PSM. Most learning took place either on the job or in group settings such as staff retreats.

 

What was noticeable about the Tanzanian public service reform strategy was its reliance at the start of the program on a transplantation approach as opposed to a more organic, evolutionary process customized for Tanzanian conditions.

Background

This case study forms part of a research program being carried out by the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) based in Maastricht, the Netherlands, for the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris on the subject of improving the capacity and performance of development organizations mainly in low-income countries.

Conclusion

There were several factors in the wider Tanzanian context that shaped the development of the capacity for change management.

The readiness of the Tanzania public service for large-scale change has been mixed. Many staff appear to have welcomed the chance to improve their individual and collective performance and were determined to make progress. But major constraints on the implementation of public service reform still existed.

In the Tanzania case, an unusual combination of political support, low levels of political conflict, some skilled Tanzanian managers, an absence of deep bureaucratic resistance, some historical resonance, funder patience and some key domestic constituencies may be enough to make the PSRP effective.

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European external affairsDiscussion Papers (series)ResearchCapacity developmentTanzania

External authors

Peter Morgan

Heather Baser