At our International Research Seminar hosted by the Executive Education team at Cardiff Business School in May 2021, Professor Alex Bryson of the Social Research Institute University College London explored how human resource management can be used to enhance productivity in the public sector.

There is a substantial literature indicating that private sector firms and their employees can both benefit from various Human Resources Management practices. Concerns regarding productivity in the public sector have led to government initiatives to promote these practices in the public sector.  Alex examined how well these practices translate to the public sector. 

Drawing on recent research Alex showed that some of these practices can be beneficial for public sector employers while others are not. In contrast these practices tend not to be associated with positive outcomes for public sector employees.

In terms of the implications of these findings for public policy, Alex concluded that it is important to remember that the public sector is different. Workers are different in terms of their motivation and risk preferences. Output is also hard to monitor with complex jobs and multi-tasking.  The context is also different in terms of the emphasis placed upon procedural fairness, governance and the importance of unions. Mimicking the practices adopted in the private sector may not be appropriate.

The slides from Alex’s presentation are available here.