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Title: Rethinking civil service human capital in a developing context : a capability development perspective
Author: Ekuma, Kelechi
ISNI:       0000 0004 6423 405X
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2015
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In recent years, a research consensus has coalesced around the notion that human capital development and an efficient public service are critically important determinants of societal transformation, especially in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). However, there is no similarly wide agreement on how to systematically drive improvements in the quality of a nation's human capital or its public service. This thesis contributes to this debate and adds to the literature on strategies for effective civil service human capital development and management in a developing context. Specifically, the study interrogates and explores the experience of a developing country - Nigeria, to illustrate the dynamics of a typical civil service human capital and capability development (CD) strategy. I critically examine the social and relational complexities of the policy process and how dominant neo-liberal logic is constituted, forming part of the metanarrative in state identities that perpetuate unequal power relations, elite interests, and ineffective institutional arrangements. Influenced by post structural and social constructivist philosophies, the research challenges the dominant neo-liberal orthodoxy on human capital. In this regard and utilising a case study approach, the study critically explores and reveals how the standards for human capital development are negotiated in the Nigerian federal civil service (NFCS), and examines the discourses and practices they produce. I utilise the sociology of knowledge approach to discourse (SKAD) as well as policy documents and semi-structured interviews with senior policy planners, to capture the nuanced realities and everyday meanings that are lost in dominant metanarratives of civil service human capital reforms in SSA. These explorations are positioned within the broader development debates about the need to adopt social constructivist research frames to better understand contextual issues in the capability development (CD) process. The research findings indicate that while most reform programmes in the NFCS have been captivated by the capacity development and service delivery rhetoric, the complex interplay between the dearth of human capabilities and the politicisation of the implementation process means that the impact of such policies have been very minimal. The study reveals that the relational complexities between policy agents have been engendered largely by the nature of Nigeria's political economy, which appears to have produced dynamic and interweaving unequal power relations that have helped constitute discourses centred on institutional inefficiencies, including: 'patronage', 'intense rent-seeking', and 'personalisation' of the policy process that are currently ongoing. These discourses are actively navigated, produced and reproduced according to Nigeria's social and political contexts. I argue that this socially constituted and re-constituted locale creates a complex and uniquely challenging context for reforms, such that developing civil service capacities has become a major challenge, because 'reform' policies tend to serve the interests of a few powerful elites, who are bent on maintaining the status quo. The thesis makes key recommendations that recognise these challenges and provides policy options and a framework to help the Nigerian federal service embark upon a capability development initiative that will help improve the efficiency of the Service and lead to accelerated national development.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Public service reforms ; discourse analysis ; developing countries ; Nigeria ; Nigerian public service ; Human capital ; human capital development ; capability development ; talent management