Purpose – Capitalist transformation of the public sector is global phenomenon that affects many countries. This paper seeks to examine recent public sector reforms introduced by the Government of Botswana to improve civil service performance. The underlying political philosophy behind the change in the public sector is explored by relating the neoliberal ideology which is driving the reform agenda to the discourse of new public management (NPM). Design/methodology/approach – A realist social theory is used to explain generative mechanisms and structures that are the driving force behind the change process. Findings – The paper suggests that the public sector provides essential services, which many poor people in the developing world depend on. Consequently, privatisation of public services is more likely to exacerbate poverty and to intensify inequality because the private sector is profit not needs centred. Moreover, these changes will have serious consequences for the workers. Already some have been retrenched and those remaining face a new work regime. Outsourcing is one facet of it in Botswana, which is associated with poor pay and bad working conditions. Practical implications – Provides a deeper understanding of restructuring of the public sector which is crucial for labour organisations and researchers on labour relations. Originality/value – Previous research on Botswana reforms has tended to promote neoliberal globalisation. This is the first paper that challenges comprehensively this dominant paradigm and its accompanying ideology of NPM by offering an alternative critique from a standpoint of the poor and exploited.
International Journal of Social Economics – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 9, 2008
Keywords: Capitalist systems; Globalization; Public administration; Public sector organizations; Public sector reform; Botswana