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PersonnelManagement in Government by Naff, K. C and Associates: Chapters 1 &amp2

PublicPersonnel Management by Klingner, D. E and Associates: Chapters 1 &amp2

April13, 2014


Session2 – Summer 2014


“TheWorld of Public Personnel Management&quot

Inchapter one, Donald E. Klinger and John Nalbandian in Personnelmanagement by whose objectives, in Handbook of Public Administration,start by asserting that the field of public personnel management hasundergone a tremendous development in the last four decades and thatpersonnel professionals have a wide range of techniques at theirdisposal to manage human resource (Rabin et al, 2006). The authorsalso point out that the development of various techniques by thepersonnel professionals is a clear indication that an organization’shuman resource management requires reasonable and a problem solvingapproach. However, the emphasis by personnel professionals on some ofthe best ways to carry out tasks has overlooked the diversity thatexists in the real world (Rabin et al, 2006). The authors have citedthis as one of the significant problem with personnel managementpractices.

However, personnel management has lagged behind and has not developedas such because focus still remain on what is the one best wayperform a task. Donald E. Klinger and John Nalbandian (pp. 6) pointout that there are various factors which contribute to the lag. Theyargue that the public personnel administration is guided by laws andrules, which were historically set to deal with the interference ofthe politicians in the management of organizational personnel. Theauthors continue to assert that personnel management has failed todevelop due to the view by academicians that it is theoretical study(Rabin et al, 2006).

Theauthors continue to assert that there exists a dilemma for personnelmanagers due to the fact that academicians view personnel managementas a low level technique, whereas it has a strong legal heritage.This has caused the profession to slow in its development especiallyin the public sector. The authors argue that there are consequencesassociated with the factors contributing to the lag in thedevelopment of personnel management theory. The authors warn that thepersonnel managers are encouraged to follow the management-orientedtechnique of personnel management and ignore their values (Rabin etal, 2006). It is vital to note that the personnel managers operate inpolitically volatile environments, which require their value-baseddecisions in personnel management.

Dueto the value dimension of personnel management, the authors assertthat there have been conflicts in the definition of merit in thepublic sector. Such conflicts may include what merit means is itexpertise, political responsiveness, social representation orseniority (Torpey, 2009). The authors argue that the personnelmanagement practices have failed because the management usesauthority to seek cooperation from employees rather than creating anorganizational environment, which would attract the employee’sinterest and initiative. The authors have clearly pointed out thatthis type of value-free personnel management practice is outdated andhave presented a new approach to public personnel management. In thenew approach, the authors point out to the James Thompson’s work,which provides a matrix comprising of strategies for decision andproblem solving issues (Rabin et al, 2006)? The strategieshighlighted by the authors are computation, compromise, judgment andinspiration.

Inchapter two, Systemsand Settings,Donald E. Klinger and John Nalbandian highlight the effects orimpacts of various environmental factors on the personnel managementpractices. The environmental factors include values, politics, laws,economic conditions, social factors, as well as technologicalfactors. The authors point out that the systems theory seeks toensure that the management of organizations make rational decisionsbased on the information they have. The authors argue that a systemsstructure is judged by the environmental effects its decisions hasfrom the frames of the management, employee, as well as the outsidegroups such as regulatory agencies and clients.

Theauthors highlight two systems theories closed and open. The closedsystems theory assumes that organizations are devoid of environmentaldependencies while the open systems theory holds the view that publicorganizations are largely dependent on the functionality of theconsequences of the three frames mentioned above. Conditions such associal, political and economic affect staffing in publicorganizations by supporting conflicting values regarded as merit.

Theauthors conclude by pointing out that the three sets of frames, i.e.the management, employees and the outside groups all have interest inthe decision making process of the personnel managers. The managementneeds to see maximum utilization of resources and optimumproductivity, while being able predict employee behavior. The outsidegroups such as funders need policies, which are favorable to themwhile also demanding efficiency in public service. Lastly, theauthors assert that the employees wish to increase the chances ofrewards from the organization.

Inchapter one, Historyand politics of the of public personnel management,Naff C. and associates, in Personnel Management in Government, startthe chapter with a prologue of the assassination of PresidentGarfield. Naff point out that Garfield was assassinated due to hisstern stand in regard civil service reform. His assassination was asignificant factor that contributed to the creation of the civilservice commission on January 16, 1883 (Naff etal, 2013).In the historical perspective sub chapter of this chapter, Naffpoints out to the act that the civil service has been a feature ofthe government and it was till recently that the merit system in thecivil service has been introduced. The merit system, according toNaff, was first introduced in Prussia, France and the Great Britain.The author asserts that the United States was one of the last nationsto adopt the merit system in its civil service.

TheAmerican civil service has come a long way in its reform process. Forlong, the civil service has been rife with scandals associated withthe integrity of the officials and the system as a whole. The civilservice reform in the United States has been led by the low andmiddle socio class of people. The author and his associates point outthat these reform advocates do not possess power. Naff points outthat there were no legislations in the United States to governappointments, promotions or removals in public offices during thefirst 40 years. The author is quick to point out that these approachcannot be applied today.

Itis clear from the reading that the civil service reform has beenmotivated by various factors. Significant among the factors ispolitical factors, economic and the moral factors. It was during thepresidency of Andrew Johnson that proposals for a merit system basedon examinations took center stage. President Hayes was in support ofcivil service reforms in the United States. However, the authorpoints out to the fact that congress did not support the reforms.Despite the resistance by the congress, Hayes was able to see variouscivil service reforms being formed (Naff etal, 2013).It was during his administration that the National civil servicereform league was formed. The author and his associates point outthat insurgents in government use the public offices for theirpersonal gains.

Itis vital point out that the current reforms in the civil servicesystem focus on the institutions. However, in yester years, thereform of the civil service system was based on the creation of theseinstitutions. Agencies face difficulties in trying to balance betweenthe interests of the politicians and those of the public managers(Naff etal, 2013).It is vital to point out that President Carter’s civil servicereforms were instrumental in shaping the civil service that existstoday in the United States.

Inchapter two, Institutional achievements of the reform movement, NaffC. and associates, in Personnel Management in Government, start byprologue, which gives clear details of a scandal at the GeneralServices Administration where there was an enormous abuse of thecivil service appointment system. It was discovered that a majorityof the appointments at the department were politically oriented (Naffetal, 2013).Naff and his associates point out that public servants are a criticalpart of the government. They point out that the civil servants arethe people that the government uses to implement its policies. Inother words, the civil servants can be considered to be the heartbeatof the government. As a consequence, the authors suggest that theselection system for such employees and their remuneration as well aslay off should be effective. It is imperative for the civil servicesystem to attract the best and most qualified people to the publicservice.

Theauthors point out to the Pendleton Act of 188, which has remained tobe a significant part of legislation. The Act created the Civilservice commission of the United States, which was aimed atregulating and improving the civil service of the United States. TheAct was designed to ensure that public positions were filled througha competitive process that was subject examinations, probationperiods and free from political influence or pressure (Naff etal, 2013).It is, however, imperative to note that the Pendleton Act was not thepanacea for civil service reforms.

Thearrangement of the public personnel function has been faced with thechallenges of trying to realize a number of values at once. Thevalues competing against each other include the merit, executiveleadership, political accountability, managerial flexibility andrepresentativeness. It is clear these values cannot be fulfilled allat the same time. The role of Civil Service Commission changed fromthat of policing the federal personnel system to that of serving thesame group (Naff etal, 2013). As a result, the Civil Service Commission became ineffective and metits demise. The civil service reforms in 1979 were the mostinfluential in shaping the federal personnel function of the UnitedStates. It saw the replacement of the Civil Service Commission by theOffice of Personnel Management. After the Pendleton Act, some statesin the United States such as New York developed merit systems, aswell as civil service commissions. It is, however, argued thisprocess of the states adopting the commissions has been extremelyslow. The federal government has also been pointed as having exertedpressure on the states and local governments to adopt the civilservice commissions.

Coursenotes summary

Publicpersonnel management has also been well discussed in the week tworeading on public personnel management in the USA. The notes providea vivid description of the development of the public personnelmanagement over the years. During the Washington presidency, peoplewere given government appointments based on their political supportor what is referred to us patronage. It is also apparent that theinitial governments in the US were ruled by the powerful, rich andthe landowners. It is also apparent from the course notes that peoplewere appointed based on their support for the constitution, which wasa controversial document.

Thecourse notes are clear that in the 1700s, the president had theprerogative of dismissing any government employee at will.Additionally,presidents’such as John Adams became extremely partisan in his appointments togovernment offices.Although President Jefferson resisted making public appointmentspartisan, he still bowed to pressure and awarded political partiesequally in terms of public appointments. It is evident from thereading that public personnel management decisions were based onpolitics and competence. The influence of politics continued inpublic personnel management with President Jackson who was openlypartisan in all government appointments. President Lincoln was alsopartisan and involved patronage in government appointments. He is onrecord for firing 88% of all government employees appointed bypresident.

Thispatronage by presidents was brought to an end between the years1867-1882 when congress introduced the merit system.


Thereading has highlighted the dilemma that personnel managers gothrough in making their decisions while dealing with the variousconflicting values. The reading is an eye opener that explains thevarious ills that go on in public organizations where people arefired at any time. The reading was an interesting and captivatingpiece of work. The reading has revealed to me that personnelmanagement and human resource management are the same concepts andthere are strategies, which a personnel or human resource managershould act. The reading has pointed out that personnel managersshould make decisions based on values, but through the influence ofthe frames of the employee, management or the outside groups suchfunders. However, the authors failed to provide a clear cut pointwhere value-based decision-making and the value-free decision makingtechnique differ.

Thechapters from the book by Naff and associates offered an interestingyet captivating reading. It highlights clearly the journey of thecivil service reform for ancient years. The chapter offer criticalinsight to me and other readers, as to the influence that politicianshave in the public personnel systems. It was also interesting to notethe values that public personnel managers are supposed to balance.

Thecourse notes presented a clear description to me on the progressthrough which the patronage system went through until the congressintroduced the merit system. The class notes offered an interestingread which is eye opening. The reading has highlighted on the originof the patronage that is discussed in chapter two of the reading.


Klingner,D. E., Nalbandian, J., &amp Llorens, J. (2010). Publicpersonnel management: Contexts and strategies.New York: Longman.

Rabin,W., Hildreth, B. &amp Miller, G. (2006). Handbookof Public Administration.London: CRC Press

Cheminais,J. (2007). Thefundamentals of public personnel management.Kenwyn: Juta

Torpey,W. G. (2009). Publicpersonnel management.New York: Van Nostrand.

Naff,K.C., Ricucci, N., and Freyss, S.F. (2013). PersonnelManagement in Government: Politics and Process.Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.