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Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Bureaucrats are not stakeholders

Indian democracy has become quite focused on bringing views of all stakeholders into the policy debate on any question. That is a good thing.

I have an article in the Economic Times today, where I argue that while we do this, we should be careful to not treat officials as stakeholders. When the merger of Indian Airlines and Air India is being evaluated, all viewpoints should be brought to bear on the decision but one -- the views of existing employees of Indian Airlines or Air India.

2 comments:

  1. I would disagree with you on the point of 'bureaucrats' not being stakeholders. In India, we have a permanent civil service, carrying out the work of government. The senior levels of the civil service also participate/assist in policy formulation. It would appear that having execution experience earlier in the career would be advantageous in subsequently devising practical and effective policies. The problem with the current model is that it is monopolised by the insiders, who block and exclude outside experts.

    Most of the organisations are increasingly performing highly specialised work, which requires understanding of the systems and processes intrinsic to the organisation and internal and external factors relevant to success of its mission. This is necessarily a time consuming process, especially in a government department where standardisation is very low.

    The long term interest of the executors and policy makers rising through the government is served through building their professional reputation and gaining opportunities of doing meaningful work in an area of their interest through their ability to deliver results. They, thus, have a stake in the success of the organization, which needs to be recognised while planning any strategic transformations.

    Air India is not a good example because it is a business the government should not have been in the first place, or should not continue to be. Most other government departments, especially those performing core functions require capable leadership and a motivated workforce, deriving their life purpose through their work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Most other government departments, especially those performing core functions require capable leadership and a motivated workforce, deriving their life purpose through their work."

      That;s the exactly the point. The life purpose cannot be to obtain a cushy job without any accountability to the people. You need a clear accountable framework first and metrics related to the function of the bureaucracy as it pertains to the citizen. And, any decision should be seen from that point of view.
      As an example, PSU banks should continue to exist if it makes sense for the country as a whole, not because of the sake of the PSU bank employees themselves who enjoy absolutely no accountability to their customers as a result of the perverted sense of being a stakeholder for their own sake.

      Delete

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