Lay summary
After the wave of new public management, which has by now demonstrated its positive aspects but also, and above all, its limits, the public-sector organisations have reached a kind of impasse when it comes to modernisation: in fact, under the combined pressure of general trends in society (economicisation), and trends that are specific to the public sector (managerialisation of public-sector management, individualisation of working conditions, and alignment of employment terms with those of the private sector, massive reorganisations that introduce uncertainty as a norm and result in the first redundancies, especially in Switzerland where cost-saving programmes are currently very much in vogue), the reform programmes are tending to get bogged down, and the public-sector workers are becoming demotivated on a long-term basis.International research shows that this impasse is linked in particular to insufficient account being taken of the cultural and human factors that characterise public servants. It has been found that they experience a kind of professional identity crisis due to the multiplication of values and reference points with which they are confronted, and the development of standards and expectations that are formulated for them, which create an environment in which the messages are often ambiguous, if not contradictory. The consequences with regard to the public servants are becoming increasingly apparent, taking the form of demotivation, organisational detachment, a drop in productivity, and new ethical problems. In order to make progress with the reform programmes underway in public-sector organisations, a more differentiated knowledge of the current identities and motivations of public servants must be developed. Based on a Grounded Theory approach, this inductive research aims first at discovering and characterising what we have called the 'new worlds of the post-civil service' in Switzerland, the new identities and motivational patterns of public employees. In a second step, a quantitative methodology will be used to assess the fit between the public employees belonging to these sub-worlds, and their current professional contexts. Finally, we will formulate some recommendations, mainly in the field of HRM, for the key actors in the reforms currently taking place.