The Changing Modes of Administrative Reform in South Korea

Transylvanian Review of Administrative Sciences. 2017;13(50):54-72 DOI 10.24193/tras.2017.0004


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Journal Title: Transylvanian Review of Administrative Sciences

ISSN: 1842-2845 (Print)

Publisher: Babes Bolyai University

Society/Institution: Babes Bolyai University, Public Administration Department

LCC Subject Category: Political science: Political institutions and public administration (General)

Country of publisher: Romania

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF



Chonghee HAN (Associate Professor, Ph.D., Department of Public Administration, Faculty of Public Policy and Law, Kwangwoon University, Seoul, Korea)
Sunhyuk KIM (Professor, Ph.D., Department of Public Administration, College of Political Science and Economics, Korea University, Seoul, Korea)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 25 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

<p>In this paper, we review the past two decades of administrative reform in South Korea and argue that the dominant models and theories in the fi eld, i.e., New Public Management (NPM), post-NPM, and traditional public administration have been in a state of fusion in implementing measures without a coherent reform model. We observe that the reform movements can neither challenge nor undermine the traditional bureaucracy and maintain that they are the result of a complex mix of both environmental events and contextual factors. We specifi cally examine the co ncrete change and development of administrative reform during the Kim Dae Jung (1998- 2003), Roh Moo Hyun (2003-2008), and Lee Myung Bak (2008-2013) administrations in South Korea. Among the cases being considered are the restructuring of government ministries, the executive agency system, and rationalization of public enterprises, as well as such performance management schemes as the evaluation system for government departments and the Open Position System. We conclude that the developmental state and the hierarchical bureaucracy are still salient in South Korea’s inconsistent administrative reform since the 1990s and that it is crucial to design a prudent reform strategy to achieve a more effective public sector.</p>