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Title: Accountability and the merit principle in the Korean civil service.
Author: Jung, Jin-Chul.
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 1993
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Bureaucracy is an inevitable phenomenon as well as an indispensable necessity in modern society regardless of a country's size and degree of development. Its importance is stressed more in developing countries where there are few effective institutions to cope with initiating, designing, evaluating and even implementing development programmes. Further, due to homogeneity in culture and ethnicity and its vulnerable geopolitical conditions, Korea has been governed by a unitary centralised government for over a millennium, with its staff recruited through tests. By virtue of the bureaucracy's leading role, Korea has achieved outstanding economic progress since the 1960s. Recent changes in Korea, represented by political democratisation and economic development, call for reform of the bureaucracy. This persists as formed in the early 1960s for development administration. Its permeating values and attitudes are still traditional and those acquired as colonial legacies. Today, the Korean bureaucracy is being required to be accountable, responsible, responsive as well as effective, efficient Two sorts of reforms are considered here. One is control in line with democratic principles and popular expectations. The other is encouragement through personnel administration based on the merit principle. Since both are complementary to the other, these reforms should be implemented at the same time. Control without encouragement generates mal- or non-administration at best reluctant, passive and reactive administration. Encouragement without control allows the ascendancy of elite groups; competent but hard to control and thus seemingly unaccountable. In controlling the Korean bureaucracy, significant stress should be on normative constraints as well as on external, institutional and technical control systems. Under the influence of Confucianism the bureaucracy in Korea is seen as an agent to implement Heaven's will. No matter how elaborate control systems may be, in the face of complexity and professionalisation of modern bureaucracy, in the end their effectiveness depends on the will of human beings to apply them neutrally. External control cannot be disregarded, but they must be complemented by morality, integrity and ethics. In Korea this means there must be understanding of and reference to the specific culture and traditions of the country. The merit principle is a comprehensive principle governing all aspects of personnel administration. Korea has a millennium-long tradition of meritocracy in which the government officials were selected through tests of merit The merit principle is taken for granted by Koreans. The contemporary Korean civil service system is also established on the basis of such belief. However, there is a gap between the formal system and the reality of its operation. Balanced personnel practices between ministries through strengthening the central personnel agency, the normalisation of performance appraisal, and strengthening of the protection of the merit principle are essential. Politicisation, representativeness, managerialism, professionalism and trade unionism have to be treated in processes of reform. Intervention of politics into administration, and poor representativeness stemming from gender, regional and educational disparities should be addressed. Managerialism and market principle, professionalism and unionism are more positive factors in Korea
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Bureaucracy Management Political science Public administration