Global Challenges Faced by Public Sector Managers and Ways to Address Them

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Discuss the global challenges to public sector managers around the world and suggest ways in which they may address them


The public sector is involved in various activities which vary from financial, demographic, historical, and economic, among others. Managers in the sector must manage it effectively, just like private managers are required to do the same. Globalization and technological developments have increased the demand for managers in the sector to expedite information and transaction dissemination to the citizens as well as other stakeholders. There are various positions in the public sector: non-managerial employees, first-line managers, middle managers, and top managers. This study critically evaluates the global challenges faced by public sector managers and strategies in which they can address them. The typical roles of public sector managers include leading, organizing, planning and controlling activities of the public. The study will, therefore, assess the challenges that managers face as they carry out their duties at the different levels of management.

Global Challenges to the Public Sector Managers around the World and Ways in Which They May Address Them

One of the main challenges that managers in the public sector face are getting timely approval for them to carry out their operations as quickly as possible, (Löffler et al. 28). The sector has an extended hierarchy of command and many offices that have to approve plans before they are executed, unlike the private sector. For instance, the council has to consult all the forty-seven councilors before settling down on a decision. The various political fronts that affect the decision-making process delay the approval of operations such as projects. Sometimes arriving at a decision is elongated and there are times when a consensus is not reached. Managers may advocate for the adoption of a flatter organization structure which is similar to the ones in the private sector for them to ease the approval of their plans, (Nica 179).

The managers also face challenges due to cultural beliefs of their employees. Globalization has turned the world into a global village whereby employees from various nationalities work together in the public sector. Organizational culture in the sector has been used by various researchers to find out how people behave in a sophisticated setting. Research has consistently confirmed that employees’ behavior is highly dependent on their experience and perceptions of their culture, (Ryan et al. 625). Managers find it hard to establish a competitive organizational culture due to the complexity of their employees’ beliefs, practices, customs and the way they think. Working with such groups of people to achieve a common goal has been a difficult task for most managers.

It would be important for public sector managers to spearhead the creation of the right organizational culture in their various places of duty. Creating an organizational culture requires an understanding of the various employees’ beliefs and bringing them to the point of understanding on the need to change them. Through formulation and implementation of strategies that align with the public sectors’ vision, the employees can be led to focus on a common goal which dictates the way things are done in the sector. There are four types of organizational culture that managers can adopt: the role culture, power culture, person culture or the task culture. The first describes a culture whereby the role of various employees and managers is more important than their positions, the second one refers to a situation where authority and power is from a central position, person culture focuses on what the individuals do in specific situations, and task culture emphasizes the activities that are being carried out. 

The effectiveness of organizational culture in the public sector depends on how strong the existing culture is and the magnitude of the proposed changes, (Abelson et al. 249). The main challenges that managers are facing are in bringing about the change in culture. The problem increases where subcultures exist in the sector because management mainly comprises of individuals who have been raised into such positions after years of service. Examples include having former head teachers manage schools and cases where ex-footballers manage football clubs.

Public sector managers who have moved from the private sector normally experience difficulties in adjusting from the private sector’s way of operating. Such managers are typically focused on profits and delivering the needs of the shareholders, simplifying decision making, and operating under high levels of autonomy. Having to work in a sector where there is less power, authority, autonomy, and flexibility are always challenging for managers who were previously in the private sector, (Pal 74). However, it is worth noting that these challenges have approaches which managers can use to minimize them. For example, the recruitment process can be conducted in a manner that will allow the recruitment of people who are likely to fit in the new organizational structure easily. Besides, candidates from the private sector should be made aware of the changes that they should expect once they are absorbed into the public sector for them to make more informed decisions. The change in operations from the private sector to the public sector can also be eased through effective induction, training and development processes for the managers, (Jackson et al. 13).

According to Rantanen et al. (417), among the challenges faced by managers in the public sector is privatization. Privatization refers to the sale of government-owned equity in commercial enterprises or public industries to private investors with or without maintaining the governments’ control over the enterprise. For instance, when the UK government privatized some of its public sector services in the 1980s contractual arrangements such as the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arose making it harder for the previous managers to keep up with the pace operations in the private sector, (Rantanen at al 411). Managers go through challenges due to the changes in organizational design, structure, and culture after privatization. Governments use franchising, denationalization or deregulation as mechanics of privatization.

One of the critical solutions to that challenges associated with privatization is setting up strong partnerships which means that some departments of the public sector depend on the private, third sector or other public to deliver their services, (Schraeder et al., 495). By so doing, managers get a chance to understand how private sector organizations operate. The increased difficulty of delivering public services is also a challenge for most managers. However, most governments have ensured that the responsibility of such services no longer lies in a single department, a strategy that should be adopted in various the delivery services. For instance, there are various departments which are involved in delivering security and criminal justice to the public such as the crown prosecution service, police department, the courts, and the forensic science services, (Jackson 19).

Among the challenges experienced by managers in the public sector include managing changes in the economic conditions as well as unforeseen circumstances, (Northcott et al. 170). Such changes placed a much and unexpected demand on public services, for instance, inflation and increased in unemployment. There is a need for good resource management in the services offered by the public sector because the ability to coordinate and monitor different service chains and also ensure that resources are channeled in the right way poses a challenge to most managers. The solution lies in constant strategic thinking, planning and continuous improvement in public organizations. Managers should be able to come up with ways in which technical, environmental forces, human and limited resources can be balanced. Since managers in the public sector have less power and authority unlike their counterparts in the private sector, strategic management to them is all about matching activities with the political agenda while because some politicians are always looking for quick gains which they can always point to as their success. Managers should, therefore, embrace short-term strategic management.

Managers in the public sector also experience challenges due to external factors such as the speed of technology. The rate at which technological advances are taking place has affected every organization in the public sector and keeping up with the technological trends as a way of interacting with the society poses a significant challenge to the managers, (Naschold 63). For instance, the police department and other departments which provide security to the public have to adopt the new technology in dealing with the current crimes. Crimes such as cyber attacks have increased in the past decade, raising the need for managers in the public sector to keep up with the pace at which criminals are devising new methods of attacks, (Head et al. 721). Also, the rapid changes have also impacted how services are offered to the public and also the organization of public services. Public managers are forced to pass timely information to the public through the various media channels that are available in a manner that satisfies all stakeholders. There are too many interest groups and stakeholders that public managers are required to satisfy through engaging them in discussions and also passing information to. Managers in this sector should, therefore, come up with different kinds of ways to deliver information to the various stakeholders through public meetings, advisory committees, public announcements, governing bodies, and task forces. They should also ensure that their training and knowledge levels match the requirements of technological advancements, (Weerakkody et al. 321).


Managers in the public sector experience various challenges which threaten the quality of services that they offer to the public. However, these challenges are not without solutions that can either minimize them or help the managers in evading them. One of the main challenges that they experience is getting timely approvals for their plans due to the hierarchical nature of public leadership, adopting a flatter hierarchy of command by giving managers more power and authority to make most decisions and Also, working with people from various cultural backgrounds has always been a challenge to managers in most organizations. Involving employees in decision making and making them understand the need to pursue a common goal which is beneficial to the public is the first step in changing organizational culture. Most managers in the public sector have moved from the private sector, which makes it difficult for them to adopt the new organizational structure. However, with proper training, development, and induction, they can successfully transition into the new environment. With the right training, managers can be able to adopt the technological advancements in their operations to serve the public adequately.

Works Cited

Abelson, Julia, et al. "Deliberations about deliberative methods: issues in the design and evaluation of public participation processes." Social science & medicine 57.2 (2003): 239-251.

Head, Brian W., and John Alford. "Wicked problems: Implications for public policy and management." Administration & Society 47.6 (2015): 711-739.

Jackson, Peter M., and Lynn Stainsby. "The public manager in 2010: Managing public sector networked organizations." Public Money and Management 20.1 (2000): 11-16.

Löffler, Elke, and Tony Bovaird. "Understanding public management and governance." Public management and governance. Routledge, 2004. 27-38.

Naschold, Frieder. New Frontiers in the Public Sector Management: Trends and Issues in State and Local Government in Europe. Vol. 69. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG, 2017.

Nica, Elvira. "Organizational culture in the public sector." Economics, Management and Financial Markets 8.2 (2013): 179.

Northcott, Deryl, and Tuivaiti Ma'amora Taulapapa. "Using the balanced scorecard to manage performance in public sector organizations: Issues and challenges." International Journal of Public Sector Management 25.3 (2012): 166-191.

Pal, Leslie Alexander. Beyond policy analysis: Public issue management in turbulent times. Thomson Nelson, 2005.

Rantanen, Hannu, et al. "Performance measurement systems in the Finnish public sector." International Journal of Public Sector Management 20.5 (2007): 415-433.

Ryan, Christine, and Peter Walsh. "Collaboration of public sector agencies: reporting and accountability challenges." International Journal of Public Sector Management 17.7 (2004): 621-631.

Schraeder, Mike, Rachel S. Tears, and Mark H. Jordan. "Organizational culture in public sector organizations: Promoting change through training and leading by example." Leadership & Organization Development Journal 26.6 (2005): 492-502.

Weerakkody, Vishanth, Marijn Janssen, and Yogesh K. Dwivedi. "Transformational change and business process reengineering (BPR): Lessons from the British and Dutch public sector." Government Information Quarterly 28.3 (2011): 320-328.

January 19, 2024


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