Article “Let the managers manage.”
Can this slogan be applied in Indonesia’s bureaucracy?
By : Alexander B. Koroh
Let the managers manage, and managing for results are the slogans that appear from manegerialism (New Public Management) concept. Let the managers manage, this motto appears from the notion that the managers should have wide space of discretion so that they can manage the public resources under their authority in achieving particular results. The results themselves can exist in the form of outputs and outcomes.
This is crucial because the managers must focus on the attainment of results rather than inputs and processes as they are normally applied in “Weberian bureaucratic model. That is why from a public management perspective, focus on results is considered prominently vital compared to emphasizing on inputs and processes. Hence, since 1980s many countries across the world particularly developed countries such as the United Kingdom, America, New Zealand, Canada, and some Scandinavian nations decided to put manegerialism in to the practice of their public organizational activities. Therefore, it could be said that these countries had left Weberian bureaucratic model behind and entered New Public Management (NPM) arena. According to David Osborne and Ted Gaebler, New Zealand is the pioneered in applying NPM. Shortly speaking, efficiency, economy, discretion, accountability and decentralization are the principles in NPM.
Focusing on results means that managers need to pay maximum attention to the needs and satisfactions of clients/costumers. This is difficult because the needs and the environment change rapidly and uncertainly. So the innovative and creative spirit and actions are critical for managers in order to meet the needs and satisfactions of their clients/costumers. Although managers are given authority and autonomy to handle public resources but they are hold to be accountable to their principal (Chief of Executive), thus the corruptive actions can be avoided.
Based on the explanation above, it seems pretty difficult for Indonesia’s bureaucracy to conduct the slogan, since frankly speaking the bureaucracy is still, perhaps, in “Weberian bureaucratic model” with its patron-client atmosphere. Since this bureaucratic model focus on inputs and processes, it is trapped by procedural and regulative activities, so the public organization in this model is typically ‘think inside the box’, lack of initiative and creative atmosphere, rigid, and in turn it gives poor attention to the needs of clients/customers. Hence it is not a surprise if agencies (agency, board, bureau, office) at provincial and district (Regency/City) level do not know precisely where, and who are their customers and clients. In the other words, there is a lack of sensitivity and discernment of the agencies toward customers’ and clients’ needs. For instance, the health agencies do not know precisely how many children encounter a lack of healthy diet that hinders their normal growth. This issue also occurs to other agencies such as education, transportation, agriculture, and social agencies. It could be said most of agencies do not yet operate efficiently while fulfilling the public good.
Finally, it sounds good if Indonesia’s public organizations at all stages could apply the slogan of “let the managers manage. Since if agencies can put this slogan into practice, then the needs of costumers/clients could be met properly. But I guess, changing the paradigm where Indonesia’s bureaucracy exists should be brought in to a reality first.