Analyzing Decision Making Process in Public Sector - Before and After the Parliamentary Elections of 2012

News | FIGHTING CORRUPTION | Publications | Article 7 April 2016

The article was writen in the framework of the project "Strategic Plan Georgia 2020 - Strengthening Public Involvement" and was published on the blog "Georgia 2020".


The period following the “Rose Revolution” is associated with the Civil Service Reform in Georgia. According to the assessments of international organizations, big part of the Civil Service Reform was successful (for instance, fight against corruption). The second phase of the Civil Service Reform started after the October 2012 Parliamentary elections. Civil Service Reform turned out to be the priority for the Government. The new Concept of the Civil Service Reform and the new Law on Civil Service were elaborated, coming into force in January 1, 2017. Effectively managing human resources is one of the cornerstones of the Concept of the Civil Service Reform. However, the procedural details of the decision-making process in public service is not thoroughly analyzed. Within the competence, highly qualified staff should ensure the relevance/effectiveness of the decisions made in public service. The decision-making process must be transparent and the decisions must be taken by the personnel of relevant competencies, ranks or class in general and not in individual cases. At the end, the process necessitates decentralization of the system at the required level and is an important aspect for an effective functioning of the civil service.


The division of labor has a long history. Rational division of labor is one of the main aspects of governance, which, in most of the cases, determines the effectiveness of the organizational work. Specialized division of labor creates the opportunity of horizontal division of the authority, while the principle of hierarchy is the necessary condition for control. Vertical division of labor establishes the management level hierarchy.


According to the contemporary management theory, one of the central goals of the management circle is to ensure effective, rational and informed decisions-making process [1]. Optimizing the decision-making process requires systemic and timely exchange of information, when, depending on the competencies, the relevant decisions are made at every level of the institution. For any position in public sector specialization and qualification is the precondition for competent decision-making process. All of these ensure not only the correct decisions, but also the implementation of the decisions. Strategic and global goals cannot be fulfilled if the decisions are not taken according to the relevant authorities at each rank and only afterwards the decisions are passed over to the actual executor.


The subject of the article is the discussion of the decision-making process in public sector and the participation of public servants in the decision-making process.


The research aims to analyze and to identify the main tendencies of the decision-making process that describes two main periods of the Civil Service Reform. The first phase of the reform includes the period of 2004-2012, post Rose Revolution period and the process of the Civil Service Reform after October 2012 elections.


Methodological strategy is based on the analysis of empirical data of the Desk Research. The discussion uses the comparative analysis of civil service between 2011 and 2014. We use the research “The Process of Forming Meritocracy in Transformational Civil Service” (2011) [2] and “Civil Service of Georgia – Problems and Challenges” (2014) [3], as well as the strategic documents, statistical data, expert assessments and analysis. The article includes the discussion and interpretation of general tendencies of civil service policy and scientific research.


According to the contemporary management theories, highly decentralized institutions are more open and democratic systems – the decision-making process is transparent and in some cases more effective than in highly centralized organizations.


High decentralization among various circles is especially important in civil service institutions for better division of authority and control. The process, where the decisions are not take by one individual alone, ensures more involvement of various circles and the transparency of the decision-making process [4].


The leaders at higher levels rarely check every-day decisions of their subordinates. Similar assessments are made according to the conclusive indicators or final results. The capacity of control systems ensure timely identification, reaction, solution and prevention of the problems made during the working process. According to the researchers of the role and importance of human interactions, not only the leadership, but public servants themselves effectively control the management process.
According to the qualitative sociological research done in 2011 about the civil service, the decision-making practice was not homogenous and not based on uniform principle that would be acknowledged, shared and implemented by any of the heads within the civil service.


Civil servants’ interpretation of the subordination principle automatically excludes the participation in the decision-making process – the “task assigned” is not a subject of review.


“My subordinate must fulfill the assigned task and this shall not be reviewed; and if the higher authority assigns a task to me, regardless of the principles, the task must be fulfilled”. (One of the respondents, civil servant) [5]


The delegation of authorities and responsibilities in civil service must ensure the decentralized functioning of the decision-making system. Decentralization of civil service is the precondition for transparent, open systems with meritocratic principles.


Making a decision means taking a responsibility, while the responsibility is the sole prerogative of the head. Therefore, talking about the job description created for various position in civil service, we refer to the relevant authorities and responsibilities. In this case, only responsibilities remain, while the authority is altogether passed over to the head. Therefore, there is an issue of differentiating between authorities and responsibilities, which might be considered as a hindering aspect of the effective functioning. Civil servant becomes performer and not responsible for his/her actions. Unhealthy work relations are established between the head and the servant [6].


The results of the 2014 qualitative research reflect the new tendencies in terms of civil servants’ attitude toward the decision-making process in civil service. If there was a centralization tendency before 2012, after the government change the situation has changed as well. Leaders’ approach toward the decision-making process is transformed. The leaders discuss the fallacious practice implemented by the so-called “previous government” more openly and freely. The respondents highlight the lack of initiative from the employees from low, mid and high circles and consider it to be the legacy of the previous government.


“Employees got used to the fact that the decisions are made from top to down and it was decided by one individual. This had a fatal impact on their future development. They lost creativity and the ability to make decisions. They are expecting to receive tasks and do not try to find the solution themselves, which is problematic in terms of getting the results.” (One of the respondents) [7]


The decision-making process in civil service is related to the issues such as the competency and the lack of initiative and the fear of sanctions among employees. According to the leaders in civil service, employees frequently avoid responsibility: “They don’t know how to make decisions, cannot combine different alternatives” [8]. Most of the time, the reason is incompetence and the lack of professional and practical experience.


High level managers note that centralization tendency has been reduced under the new government and a lot of decisions are made at the level of ministries. What is more, all of the decisions within the ministries are not discussed at the level of the minister. Instead, it is taken by the heads of the departments and units.


The opinion of the high level manager is worth noting, according to which the decision-making processes must be initiated at the lower levels, while they should be filtered and improved at the higher levels. However, the centralization or the decentralization of the decision-making process depends on the strategic and political importance of the issue.


Effective decision-making system and bureaucratic procedures in the civil service is nonexistent. There is no coherent system that would make the decision-making process more effective clarifying the responsibilities of civil servants. The main reason regarding the issues in the decision-making process is considered the lack of effective internal system and procedures. According to the respondents, it is not clear who takes decisions and when – who is involved in the process. This way, the decisions are taken by one or two individuals only [9].


Summarizing the results of the empirical research, we can conclude that before 2012 the decision-making process in civil service was characterized by centralization. It is true that the civil service is a hierarchical system. Yet, decentralization in fact requires that the decisions are made at every level within the competencies of relevant authorities. The organizational structure of the decentralized civil service is directly related to the establishment of the control mechanisms, as well as specialized division of labor – assigning specialists to specific tasks to get better results. Civil servants often name the hierarchy and subordination to be the reason of the lack of involvement in the decision-making process.


After the 2012 parliamentary elections, high ranking public officials started to talk about the deficiencies in the decision-making process more freely, openly criticize the existing situation and express more desire and will to change the process to make the decision-making process more decentralized.


The necessity of working out more effective system for decision-making procedure and implementing and making it an effective instrument is the starting point for both of the periods. Each circle in the civil service must contribute to the decision-making process within their own competencies and responsibilities. Improving the formal decision-making procedure is not the precondition for an effective functioning of the decision-making system. The orderly system will become less functional when there is a lack of qualification and experience.


The ideas expressed in the article belong to the author only and do not represent the position of IDFI, the University of Bremen or the Federal Foreign Office of Germany. Therefore, these organisations are not responsible for the content of the article.





1. Stephen P. Robbins, Mary Coulter, Management. Pearson Education, Inc., 2012

2. Nino Ghonghadze, Nino Dolidze, "Civil Service in Georgia - Problems and Challenges", Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA), School of Government, Tbilisi, 2014. 

3. Tamar Charkviani, Ana Chelidze, "The Process of Forming Meritocracy in Transformational Civil Service", the research was done with the support of the Academic Swiss Caucasus Net, Iliauni Publishin House, Tbilisi, 2011.

4.  Kettl D. F. Sharing Power: Publci Governance and Private Markets; Washington DC, Brooklyn Institutions, 1993

5. Ibid.

6. Tamar Charkviani, Ana Chelidze, "The Process of Forming Meritocracy in Transformational Civil Service", the research was done with the support of the Academic Swiss Caucasus Net, Iliauni Publishin House, Tbilisi, 2011.

7. Nino Ghonghadze, Nino Dolidze, "Civil Service in Georgia - Problems and Challenges", Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA), School of Government, Tbilisi, 2014. 

8. Ibid.

9. Nino Ghonghadze, Nino Dolidze, "Civil Service in Georgia - Problems and Challenges", Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA), School of Government, Tbilisi, 2014. 

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