International Research Society for Public Management edition:14 location:Berne, Switserland date:07-09 April 2010
This paper reports on competency management in the public sector. Since competency management is considered as a means to develop an integrated HR policy rather than an objective in itself, in this paper we specifically focus on the three dimensions of integrated competency management: horizontal integration (aligning HR activities), vertical integration (aligning HR and the organisational strategy) and implementation in the organisation. By facilitating these three dimensions of integration, competency management might serve as a leverage for a more professional human resource management.
Based on a recent OECD (2009) study, we conducted case studies in the national governments of four countries, with a mature competency management system: Australia, Belgium, Korea and the United Kingdom. The case studies dealt with the following research questions:
(1) How are governments currently managing their competencies?
(2) To what degree does competency management meet the three dimensions of integration in the public sector?
To answer these research questions, different sources were consulted: academic literature, official government documents, and local experts (academics and practitioners). Together, these sources gave us a comprehensive overview of how competencies are managed.
The results of the case studies showed that all selected countries have problems with the third dimension of integration. We found that each country experiences difficulties with the implementation of centrally developed HR tools and guidelines in their agencies or departments. Possible explanations for the lack of integration are discussed.