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 - 10 of 23
  • Publication
    Arms Length Bodies
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-11) Manning, Nick
    There has always been a diversity of organizational forms within the public sector. However, in some countries organizational diversification has increased significantly through the distribution of government responsibilities to so-called "arm's-length bodies." This notion reflects their common characteristic of being at arm's length from the control of politicians, outside the hierarchical control of traditional vertically-integrated line ministries and departments. There is some uncertainty concerning the scale of this movement of staff and budgets towards such agencies. Some commentators maintain that arms-length agencies have always been found within governments and that some highly publicized examples of "agencification" have skewed the debate (Wettenhall 2005). Others argue that the creation of distinct entities with independent financial management regimes held responsible for discrete areas of service delivery is a distinct and growing phenomenon.
  • Publication
    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
    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.
  • Publication
    The State and International Development Management: Commentary from International Development Management Practitioners
    (2008) Bertucci, Guido; Cooley, Larry; Fn'Piere, Patricia A.; Hughes, Paul D.; Manning, Nick
    Poverty, instability, terrorism, and the emergence of new global actors characterize some of the central challenges facing twenty-first-century development and administration. Derick W. Brinkerhoff, a distinguished scholar in this field, delivered this Ferrel Heady Roundtable Lecture in 2007. He explores broadly the evolution of contemporary thinking concerning international development management. From his analysis, he draws thought-provoking clues regarding what works and what research questions remain to be answered. His central thesis: Lessons from past experience need to better inform current policy and practice. Five seasoned development administrators respond critically to Brinkerhoff's arguments, offering PAR readers an informative, insightful, and germane intellectual exchange.
  • Publication
    Bangladesh : The Experience and Perceptions of Public Officials
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2001-05) Mukherjee, Ranjana; Gokcekus, Omer; Manning, Nick; Landell-Mills, Pierre
    This report summarizes the responses of Bangladeshi Class I (highest level) public sector officials to a survey seeking opinions on a number of civil service issues, from personnel management practices to rewards and disciplinary actions, and from employees' sources of income to the budget environment and procurement processes. Survey results show instances in Bangladesh's civil service where professional conduct is perceived to be sacrificed at the expense of personal and political concerns. Surveyed officials express a concern over patronage appointments in the recruitment of Class III and IV staff and unfavorable postings and transfers at the higher level. Corruption, insufficient budgetary allocation, and unpredictable budgets are identified as key impediments to achieving organizational objectives. The report utilizes the survey data to test prior assertions against the survey data. Data is analyzed to establish that institutions do matter for accountability; to explore an empirical association between elements of institutional environment and accountability; and to generate potential accountability payoffs for certain reform interventions. The analyzes show that reduced interference by politicians from outside and within the organizations, less micro-management by very senior civil servants and merit-based recruitment to Class I jobs will be most effective in reducing the perception of pervasive corruption.
  • Publication
    Public Sector Human Resource Practices to Drive Performance
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-10) Manning, Nick; Hasnain, Zahid
    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.
  • Publication
    Institutionalizing Performance in the Public Sector in LAC : The Case of Mexico
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-07) Manning, Nick; Arizti, Pedro; Senderowitsch, Roby
    Mexico, like other Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) governments, is committed to improving the performance of the public sector. An important first step is to gather objective information that enables governments to measure progress towards achieving their policy and program goals. As well as potentially improving decision making by politicians and civil servants provided with higher quality information on the performance of departments/agencies and programs, this information can enhance transparency and accountability to the public and the legislature. The Government of Mexico (GoM)'s new results-based budgeting initiative is anchored in a new legal framework, establishing the Performance Evaluation System or Sistema de Evaluacion del Desempeno (SED) that will provide data on the performance of publicly-financed programs and organizations as inputs to the budget cycle. These performance data include consolidated data from program evaluations or other sources on the outputs and impact/effectiveness of public expenditures; and data on the quality of public management, which is the focus of a new Management Improvement Program.
  • Publication
    Recent Trends in Lending for Civil Service Reform
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2002-07) Manning, Nick
    The note assesses how the volume, distribution, structure, and objectives of Bank lending for civil service reform have changed in recent years. Bank operations in civil service reform usually refers to interventions that affect the organization, performance, and working conditions of employees paid by government budgets, but excludes reforms that affect police, the armed forces, public health care workers, public school teachers, and employees of state enterprises. Assessments of such reform are relevant in that they can also help countries improve governance, thus fostering good policy making, effective service delivery, and accountable resource use. Findings based on an Operations Evaluation Department's review of such lending, indicates a growing number of standalone civil service reform projects between 1980 and 1997. However, between fiscal 1999 and 2001, only 4 of 62 civil service reform interventions were standalone, being the rest components of major lending operations. The note further reviews the distribution of new lending, and its structure, categorizing civil service reform objectives under three broad headings: correcting fiscal imbalances, adjusting civil servant's pay, and grading structures to improve accountability, and service delivery. Issues for further consideration are raised: what are the optimal combinations - investment lending vs. programmatic adjustment - of such financing, and under what circumstances? and, in identifying the structure of the overall, changing portfolio, what would the impact be?
  • Publication
    Institutional Environment and Public Officials' Performance in Guyana
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2001-05) Gokcekus, Omer; Manning, Nick; Mukherjee, Ranjana; Nallari, Raj
    The report presents the findings of a survey of public officials in Guyana, whose views were sought in a wide range of civil service issues - from personnel management, to rewards, and disciplinary actions, and, from budget environment to corruption. Answers were used to test some prior assertions about the public sector in the country, and, it is the respondents' belief that public sector jobs are attractive, though public employees are not fully prepared for their jobs through education, and training, nor is recruitment always based on merit. However, officials find policies consistent, but implement policies even if in disagreement with policy directions. Furthermore, decision-making is characterized by poor communication, and low employee participation. Nonetheless, officials surveyed showed insight about which reforms might enhance organizational performance, and, based on data analysis, quantification of how public officials assess the organizations' institutional environment, and performance was possible. Survey data demonstrated how widely varied the institutional environments of such organizations are, and, provided evidence that performance does depend upon institutional environment. The report prioritizes interventions according to the potential payoffs in different performance areas, suggesting performance monitoring is likely to be associated with significant positive change in performance.
  • Publication
    Strengthening Oversight by Legislatures
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2002-10) Manning, Nick
    About 90 percent of the world's nearly 200 sovereign states have national legislatures or parliaments. With the spread of democracy and the rise of multiparty political systems, these bodies are playing larger roles in government. Increasingly, legislatures and their members perform four important functions of governance: o Making policies and laws. Legislatures are representative bodies for collective decisionmaking, working with the executive branch to deliberate policies and make laws. Representing citizens. Legislators give voice to individual citizens, civil society organizations, and business groups, representing the needs of local constituents in policymaking. Overseeing the executive. Legislatures oversee policy implementation by the executive branch, scrutinizing its work and holding it accountable. Recruiting future leaders. Legislatures are stepping stones and training grounds for senior positions in the executive branch. Transcending these formal functions, legislatures also provide an arena where competing political forces can debate and reach consensus on national policies and laws. This note addresses the oversight function because of its significance for government transparency and accountability, and because the Bank has initiated pilot projects to support this function.
  • Publication
    Targeting Results, Diagnosing the Means: Innovative Approaches for Improving Public Sector Delivery
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-05) Manning, Nick
    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.