Revista del CLAD Reforma y Democracia, No. 36, Oct. 2006
To grow, nation states need a capable and efficient state organization. Independently of choosing a market or state led growth strategy, an effective or capable state is essential to guarantee the rule of law and to act as main instrument of a national growth strategy. On the other hand, in the global economy, the provision of the social and scientific services required by modern societies at low cost is key in assuring the countrys international competitiveness. What type of public administration reform achieves these goals? Is public management reform instrumental to it, or should developing countries first complete classical civil service reform, and only after that engage in a more ambitious reform? This paper opts for the first alternative, arguing that the best way to advance civil service reform is to move ahead. Second, it presents the ‘structural public management model of public management reform that was originally conceived in the 1990s in and for Brazil based on the British experience. It is a managerial model because it makes public managers more autonomous and more accountable, and because it reduced the gap between the public and the private labor market it is structural, because it involves major changes in the structure of the state, particularly the set up of autonomous executive and regulatory agencies and the contracting out of social and scientific services. The model of public management reform presented here is neutral in distributive terms as well as in terms of the size of the state organization in so far as it can be and is being adopted by center left as well as center right political coalitions. Reforms adopting basically the structural management model here described are being actively being implemented in the developed countries since the 1980s. In the 1990s, some developing countries also engaged in public management reform. The model cannot be exported, but it can be imported by developing countries provided that they keep the ownership of it, i.e., that they put the reform high the national agenda, and that they adapt it to the local conditions, giving special attention to the formation of a small but competent and well paid senior civil service that will share with politicians the major roles in the strategic core of the state.