Since the Eighties in XX century bureaucracies of western democracies have experienced deep changes, first of all by the substitution of the principles of hierarchy and centralisation with those of delegacy and transferring of competences, although in different degree within the different contexts. Among the most important innovations there are: the institution of executive agencies, as functionally independent unities, which are separated from the ministers, fact that has permitted to redefine ministerial organisms according to reticular criteria; the consistent increase of managers’ organizational and financial autonomy; the extension, within human resources management, of terms of application of collective bargaining and the introduction of several dispensations to the principle of job stability; the expansion of instruments for control of efficacy and efficiency of administrative performance, for evaluation of results and for increasing the quality of services. From the analysis of these and other innovations it emerges the purpose of reducing distances between public and private sectors, according to the conviction that from the private one it is possible to get useful hints for increasing public sector’s efficiency. Anyway, although with converging aims, the process of modernization has been developed in the various countries in different ways, that highly depend on national political-institutional contexts and organizational features which have been reinforcing in the long run. These notes intend to compare the reform experiences of four western Europe countries (France, Spain, Germany and United Kingdom) and United States, starting from the first half of the Eighties. For each of the considered countries it will be examined organizational models, human resources policies and reform processes which are still in progress. Some concluding remarks will try to throw light on lines of continuity and differentiation among the different experiences considered.
Keywords: Public Administration, reform processes, comparative analysis