The Australian bullying recently announced an inquiry into workplace bullying. The public service should be leading the way in putting a stop to workplace bullying. Sadly, the reality is that there is a gap between what is espoused and what actually happens in the Australian Public Service. Ticking the boxes on administrative processes is not good enough.
So how does the U.S federal public service fair on this important issue?
For some quite a while now I’ve been working on by submission to the Australian Government inquiry in to workplace bullying. It has been a lengthy journey and there have been many discussions. What I have attempted to do is paint a clear sociological picture of workplace bullying in the Australian Public Service.
To varying degrees my submission applies to organisations outside the APS. However, I have focused on the APS for one simple reason. The APS serves our Federal Government and will be charged with developing and implementing policies. Consequently, it is imperative that the APS get its’ now house in order.
Similarly, I am aware that the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) may feel singled out by my submission. Such views are simply untrue. The fact of the matter is the the ATO is a lead agency and should, therefore, set a leading example. It does not.
I have drawn on the work of a few academics when preparing this submission. Those include:
- Irving Goffman’s seminal work on asylums
- The concerns of the anti-psychiatry movement
- Berger and Luckmans’ The Social Construction of Reality
I have done so because I believe what is being missed in APS is that process and functions within agencies are much more that administrative mechanisms. They shape the individuals experience of work by shaping the culture. And when those processes are distorted and become abusive – which is what corporate HR has been instrumental in – you have a major problem.
The nature of my submission has also been shaped by contemporary management theory and my wider concerns about the impact of this abusive corporate sub-culture on open government. As I’ve written and said before you can’t have open government without an open public service. In this regard I point you to my piece in the Canberra Times, The paranoia that will ‘shut’ government and the report Management 2.0 Hackathon prepared by the Management Information Exchange, Saba and the Enterprise 2.0 Conference.
So that’s the argument. I”ll be interested to know what people think of The Totalitarian Practices of Corporate Human Resources.