Manning, Nick

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Public administration reform; public financial management; governance
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Last updated January 31, 2023
Nick Manning retired as Head of the World Bank’s Governance and Public Sector Management Practice in December 2013. He led the development and implementation of the Bank’s updated approach to Public Sector Management.   Nick was previously the World Bank Manager for Public Sector and Governance for Latin America and the Caribbean.   He has also served as Head of the Public Sector Management and Performance Division at the OECD and as the World Bank Lead Public Sector Management Specialist for South Asia.   Nick has held advisory positions on public management for the Commonwealth Secretariat and for UNDP in Lebanon. Nick began his public sector career in local government in the U.K. and, before moving to international advisory work, was Head of Strategic Planning for an inner London Borough.  He is a Visiting Professor at the Herbert Simon Institute for Public Policy, Administration and Management; adviser to the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management; member of the editorial board of the Public Management Review; honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Institute for Development Policy and Management at the University of Manchester; and a member of the advisory group for University of London Queen Mary Master's program in Public Administration.

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 8 of 8
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    Public Sector Management Reform : Toward a Problem-Solving Approach
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-12) Blum, Jurgen ; Manning, Nick ; Srivastava, Vivek
    This note sets out key ideas from recent discussions inside and outside the Bank on how donors can support governments more effectively in delivering results in Public Sector Management (PSM) reforms. This note also reflects the discussions that have led to the Bank's new PSM approach for 2011 to 2020; identifies challenges to reforming public sector institutions; and summarizes how current thinking on PSM reform strategies has shifted toward pragmatic problem solving, seeking to improve results by identifying sustainable improvements for the public sector results chain.
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    Improving Performance : Foundations of Systemic Performance
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2010-02) Manning, Nick
    At its heart, a performance orientation in the public sector is a predisposition to make promises and an ability to deliver them. Some of the key ideas behind this are: 1) responsiveness - reducing the time lag between changed political priorities and corresponding public policy actions; 2) measurement - the quantification of outputs (and occasionally outcomes); 3) managerialism - the relaxation of the enforced consistency in procedures to move towards flexibility with accountability in order to improve efficiency. It is often seen purely as an import from the private sector, but in fact there have always been areas of managerialism within the public sector. Using these ideas, this note describes some of the key technical foundations necessary for moving towards a performance orientation and outlines a pragmatic approach for improving performance, highlighting the part played by changing performance arrangements for senior management.
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    The Promise of Performance Pay?: Reasons for Caution in Policy Prescriptions in the Core Civil Service
    (Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2014-08-05) Hasnain, Zahid ; Manning, Nick ; Pierskalla, Jan Henryk
    There is a vast body of literature on performance-related pay (PRP), with strongly held views from opponents and proponents. This study reviews this literature, disaggregating the available evidence by the different public sector contexts, particularly the different types of public sector jobs, the quality of the empirical study, and the economic context (developing country or OECD settings), with the aim of distilling useful lessons for policy-makers in developing countries. The overall findings of the review are generally positive across these contextual categories. In particular, the findings from high quality studies, based on a simple scoring method for internal and external validity, of PRP in public sector-equivalent jobs show that explicit performance standards linked to some form of bonus pay can improve the desired service outcomes, at times dramatically. This evidence primarily concerns “craft” jobs, such as teaching, health care, and revenue administration, apparently negating (at least in the short term) the behavioral economics concern about the crowding out of intrinsic incentives. The available evidence suggests that if policy-makers are sensitive to design and vigilant about the risks of gaming, then PRP may result in performance improvements in these jobs in developing countries. However, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions from the review about the effect of PRP in core civil service jobs for three reasons. First, there are very few studies of PRP in these organizational contexts. The work of senior administrators in the civil service is very different from that of many private sector jobs and is characterized by task complexity and the difficulty of measuring outcomes. Second, although some studies have shown that PRP can work in even the most dysfunctional bureaucracies in developing countries, there are few cases illustrating its effectiveness or otherwise outside OECD settings. Finally, few studies follow PRP effects over time, providing little information on long-term effects and adjustments in staff behavior. We conclude that more empirical research is needed to examine the effects of PRP in the core civil service in developing countries.
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    Performance-related Pay in the Public Sector : A Review of Theory and Evidence
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-04) Hasnain, Zahid ; Manning, Nick ; Pierskalla, Jan Henryk
    The objective of this paper is to provide a review of the theoretical and, in particular, empirical literature on performance-related pay in the public sector spanning the fields of public administration, psychology, economics, education, and health with the aim of distilling useful lessons for policy-makers in developing countries. This study to our knowledge is the first that aims to disaggregate the available evidence by: (i) the quality of the empirical study; (ii) the different public sector contexts, in particular the different types of public sector jobs; and (iii) geographical context (developing country or OECD settings). The paper's main findings, based on a comprehensive review of 110 studies of public sector and relevant private sector jobs are as follows. First, we find that overall a majority (65 of 110) of studies find a positive effect of performance-related pay, with higher quality empirical studies (68 of the 110) generally more positive in their findings (46 of the 68). These show that explicit performance standards linked to some form of bonus pay can improve, at times dramatically, desired service outcomes. Second, however, these more rigorous studies are overwhelmingly for jobs where the outputs or outcomes are more readily observable, such as teaching, health care, and revenue collection (66 of the 68). There is insufficient evidence, positive or negative, of the effect of performance-related pay in organizational contexts that that are similar to that of the core civil service, characterized by task complexity and the difficulty of measuring outcomes, to reach a generalized conclusion concerning such reforms. Third, while some of these studies have shown that performance-related pay can work even in the most dysfunctional bureaucracies in developing countries, there are too few cases to draw firm conclusions. Fourth, several observational studies identify problems with unintended consequences and gaming of the incentive scheme, although it is unclear whether the gaming results in an overall decline in productivity compared to the counterfactual. Finally, few studies follow up performance-related pay effects over a long period of time, leaving the possibility that the positive findings may be due to Hawthorne Effects, and that gaming behavior may increase over time as employees become more familiar with the scheme and learn to manipulate it.
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    Targeting Results, Diagnosing the Means: Innovative Approaches for Improving Public Sector Delivery
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-05) Manning, Nick ; Watkins, Joanna
    This note sets out approaches to reform which start with identifying the shortcomings in results and which then look for pragmatic solutions that fit the particular context: no best practice, fewer universal recommendations for institutional design. The relative merits of this type of approach have not been empirically tested, but they are nonetheless intuitively reasonable and offer an alternative to other models of institutional reform which have not had great success. This note argues that these results-based approaches are a welcome breath of fresh air in a difficult domain. They are clearly in tune with the current results focus of the international development community and they address many of the challenges recognized by practitioners in previous approaches. However the authors still have remarkably little hard evidence on which to base a robust assessment of the effectiveness of this type of intervention.
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    Public Sector Human Resource Practices to Drive Performance
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-10) Manning, Nick ; Hasnain, Zahid ; Pierskalla, Jan Henryk
    Many Governments wrestle with the issue of designing an appropriate set of human resource practices to motivate public servants to perform. Identifying the right set of practices for the public sector is a source of some controversy, and passions run high particularly in relation to the use of monetary incentives, often referred to as performance-related pay or performance based pay. This GET note reviews recent research on a range of practices Governments utilize to drive employee performance, which rest on the assumptions that public servants are motivated in two ways: (i) ‘intrinsically’ (i.e. internal factors motivated by ‘the right thing to do’), and (ii) ‘extrinsically’ (i.e., external validation from rewards offered by others). Generally, a Human Resource Management (HRM) system designed to motivate employee performance will utilize practices in two broad categories related to: (i) ‘external incentives’ (e.g., financial incentives), and (ii) ‘opportunities to perform’ focusing on ‘intrinsic’ factors (i.e. self-directed work). Within ‘external incentives,’ a financial incentive may either act over the long term (e.g., deferred compensation) or in the short term (e.g., performance-related pay). This note applies this conceptual framework to more clearly understand the range of practices Governments are using to improve staff performance, as well as the pre-conditions for their success. Given the recent attention on performance-related pay, we take a deeper look at the evidence underlying the shorter term performance-related pay, reviewing evidence from both OECD and middle income countries. Annex one provides a brief overview on the theories of motivation for those interested in the theoretical underpinnings of the work, and annex two presents’ experiences of performance pay in practice. This Note draws heavily from performance-related pay in the public sector: A review of theory and evidence (Hasnain and others 2012), a recent review of the literature in fields including political science, public administration, business management, and psychology.
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    Does the Public Sector HRM System Strengthen Staff Performance?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-12) Manning, Nick ; Watkins, Joanna ; Degnarain, Nishan
    An important objective of any Human Resource Management (HRM) system in Government is to motivate staff to perform well. This GET note looks at several HRM levers that Governments have at their disposal to influence staff performance. In particular, some of the most common levers in the public sector include: effective recruitment and retention of staff; strong staff engagement in the organization’s mission; well-designed incentives for staff to perform as well as ‘opportunities to perform’; tailored training and capacity building; and high quality performance dialogues with staff and effective follow up. In designing a HRM system that utilizes these levers effectively, this GET Note shows that it is more important to diagnose the root cause and understand the major issues of poor performance, before proposing reform actions. This paper proposes three important design questions for managers of HRM systems to assess whether they have a well-designed HRM system. 1) Does the HRM system provide both ‘external incentives’ and ‘opportunities to perform’? Does the HRM system provide the right balance between short and long term incentives? And are the broader, supporting aspects of the HRM system working effectively? The note concludes by highlighting that even where the HRM system is well designed, careful consideration must be given to two further aspects: a) how to implement reforms to improve the design of the HRM system, and b) how to ensure that a well-designed HRM system is operating effectively.
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    Results, Performance Budgeting and Trust in Government
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2010) Arizti, Pedro ; Brumby, Jim ; Manning, Nick ; Senderowitsch, Roby ; Thomas, Theo ; Arizti, Pedro ; Brumby, Jim ; Manning, Nick ; Senderowitsch, Roby ; Thomas, Theo
    The book identifies four categories of performance budgeting, namely direct performance budgeting, performance informed budget (PIB), opportunistic performance budgeting and presentational performance budgeting. While the Conference papers often refer to performance budgeting broadly defined, much of the book focuses on PIB, the most common category of performance budgeting adopted to date, making the argument that this is likely to be the most applicable in many Latin American countries. The book combines two seemingly diverse governance topics, adopts contrasting analytic styles to address these, and seeks to draw out their inter-connections, with particular reference to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Latin American countries. The first topic is PIB, which is discussed largely from the practical perspective of policy makers and practitioners, reflecting that it is a major public administration reform that has been underway for several decades. The second topic is the trust of citizens and firms in government. This book is divided into seven chapters. Chapter one provides an overview of PIB, building on two decades of experience and lesson-learning, and sets out the key themes that provide the basis for the discussions in the subsequent chapters. Chapter two introduces the concept of trust in government, particularly in OECD and Latin American countries, and explores why this matters for development. Chapters three, four, and five explore key dimensions of PIB, including the institutional foundations, the production of performance information, and the uses of performance information. Chapter six considers the impact of performance improvement on trust in government in OECD and Latin American countries. Chapter seven provides a guide for practitioners on PIB.