Impeding good governance implementation in Indonesian regional government : the effect of a bureaucratic generation gap

Mardiasmo, Diaswati & Barnes, Paul H. (2009) Impeding good governance implementation in Indonesian regional government : the effect of a bureaucratic generation gap. In 13th International Research Society for Public Management Conference (IRSPM XIII), 6 – 8 April, Fredericksberg, Denmark.

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The implementation of ‘good governance’ in Indonesia’s regional government sector became a central tenet in governance research following the introduction of the national code for governance in 2006. The code was originally drafted in 1999 as a response to the Asian financial crises and many cases of unearthed corruption, collusion, and nepotism. It was reviewed in 2001 and again in 2006 to incorporate relevant political, economical, and social developments. Even though the national code exists along with many regional government decrees on good governance, the extent of implementation of the tenets of good governance in Indonesia’s regional government is still questioned. Previous research on good governance implementation in Indonesian regional government (Mardiasmo, Barnes and Sakurai, 2008) identified differences in the nature and depth of implementation between various Indonesian regional governments. This paper analyses and extends this recent work and explores key factors that may impede the implementation and sustained application of governance practices across regional settings.

The bureaucratic culture of Indonesian regional government is one that has been shaped for over approximately 30 years, in particular during that of the Soeharto regime. Previous research on this regime suggests a bureaucratic culture with a mix of positive and negative aspects. On one hand Soeharto’s regime resulted in strong development growth and strong economic fundamentals, resulting in Indonesia being recognised as one of the Asian economic tigers prior to the 1997 Asian financial crises. The financial crises however revealed a bureaucratic culture that was rife with corruption, collusion, and nepotism. Although subsequent Indonesian governments have been committed to eradicating entrenched practices it seems apparent that the culture is ingrained within the bureaucracy and eradication of it will take time. Informants from regional government agree with this observation, as they identify good governance as an innovative mechanism and to implement it will mean a deviation from the “old ways.” Thus there is a need for a “changed” mind set in order to implement sustained governance practices. Such an exercise has proven to be challenging so far, as there is “hidden” resistance from within the bureaucracy to change its ways.

The inertia of such bureaucratic cultures forms a tension against the opportunity for the implementation of good governance. From this context an emergent finding is the existence of a ‘bureaucratic generation gap’ as an impeding variable to enhanced and more efficient implementation of governance systems. It was found that after the Asian financial crises the Indonesian government (both at national and regional level) drew upon a wider human resources pool to fill government positions – including entrants from academia, the private sector, international institutions, foreign nationals and new graduates. It suggested that this change in human capital within government is at the core of this ‘inter-generational divide.’

This divergence is exemplified, at one extreme, by [older] bureaucrats who have been in-position for long periods of time serving during the extended Soeharto regime. The “new” bureaucrats have only sat in their positions since the end of Asian financial crisis and did not serve during Soeharto’s regime. It is argued that the existence of this generation gap and associated aspects of organisational culture have significantly impeded modernising governance practices across regional Indonesia.

This paper examines the experiences of government employees in five Indonesian regions: Solok, Padang, Gorontalo, Bali, and Jakarta. Each regional government is examined using a mixed methodology comprising of on-site observation, document analysis, and iterative semi-structured interviewing. Drawing from the experiences of five regional governments in implementing good governance this paper seeks to better understand the causal contexts of variable implementation governance practices and to suggest enhancements to the development of policies for sustainable inter-generational change in governance practice across regional government settings.

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ID Code: 27045
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Good Governance, Indonesian Regional Government, Bureaucratic Culture, Bureaucratic Generation Gap, Asian Financial Crises
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Corporate Governance and Stakeholder Engagement (150303)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > POLICY AND ADMINISTRATION (160500) > Public Administration (160509)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Business Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 the authors.
Deposited On: 26 Aug 2009 23:59
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2011 13:53

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