The dual imperative of balancing speed and coordination in times of crisis: Senior leaders’ perspectives on civil service transformations and reform

Aisha J. Ali, Luis Álvaro Álvarez Calderón, Pedro Arcain Riccetto, Paola del Carpio, Elise El Nouchi, Javier Fuenzalida, Margarita Gómez, Aung Hein, Oswaldo Molina, Martin J. Williams

Research output: Working paper

Abstract

How do governments’ responses to crises change their civil services and shape their future reform agendas? We address this question by conducting interviews with sources that are hard to access but uniquely placed to answer these questions: heads of civil service and similarly senior officials from 14 countries across six continents, speaking during the waning phase of the Covid-19 pandemic. Senior leaders perceived the central challenge of managing the crisis phase of the pandemic as balancing two competing imperatives: greater speed, flexibility, and decentralization of decision-making, but also greater coordination and collaboration across teams and sectors. This required bureaucracies to question their largely hierarchical coordination methods and to transition towards network-based coordination mechanisms, agile methods, and new leadership styles. Senior leaders perceived these changes largely as accelerations of existing reform directions rather than ruptures, and were trying a range of methods to sustain and institutionalize these crisis-induced changes.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLima
Number of pages20
StatePublished - Mar 2024

Publication series

NameWorking paper
PublisherPeruvian Economic Association
No.200

Keywords

  • People management
  • Crisis management
  • Coordination
  • Agile government
  • Leadership
  • Civil service reform

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