The Diffusion of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 in OECD Countries: A Tale of Two Paths to Reform

T. J. Lah, James L. Perry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study investigates cross-national diffusion of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA). Two theoretical lenses are used to analyze the diffusion of performance appraisal, merit pay, the Senior Executive Service (SES), and the separation of positive and regulatory functions. The analysis indicates that most CSRA provisions have diffused more broadly internationally than would be expected based on their technical efficiency and effectiveness in the United States. Both the extent and patterns of diffusion indicate that institutional theory better explains diffusion than does communication theory. Although communication theory is helpful for explaining the early diffusion of CSRA provisions, primarily to English-speaking countries, later diffusion appears to be the result of institutional isomorphism. Regardless of which theories account for their diffusion, provisions from CSRA have diffused widely among OECD countries. The analysis suggests that CSRA has profoundly influenced civil service systems around the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-299
Number of pages18
JournalReview of Public Personnel Administration
Volume28
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Sep

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Administration
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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