European Public Sector Award
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With the support of: IIAS International Institute of Administrative Sciences


Theme IV

Call for Applications is closed!

THEME 4 "Leadership and Management for Change"


The European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA) - mandated by its Board of Governors' decision of 1 July 2008, and with the institutional and financial support of 15 European countries and the European Commission - invites applications to the second European Public Sector Award - EPSA 2009. The EPSA 2009 will be awarded on the occasion of a high-level symposium on leading-edge public administration solutions, which will be held on 5 and 6 November 2009 in Maastricht (NL), under the auspices of the Swedish Presidency. The conference thus presents a unique opportunity for European administrations with innovative performances and achievements to reach an extensive audience and to be recognised as a leading practice at the European level.


During the last 15-20 years, the public sector has been facing a number of global challenges that are strong drivers in changing the way European public administrations function in the 21st Century:

  • Demographic changes, such as an aging population, diminishing working population and increased immigration;
  • Environmental changes, such as climate change and shortage of space;
  • Urbanisation, including pressure on metropolitan areas, commuting and citizens' demand for housing;
  • Globalisation, internationalisation and Europeanisation, such as fewer borders, economic integration, higher competition, fast-changing markets and fast innovation, more international/European orientation in work;
  • Labour market, such as diversity of labour force and shortages in the labour market, flexicurity and inclusion policies;
  • Diminishing "social capital", including participation in elections and mistrust towards public administration and public services, more uncertainty, and;
  • Less willingness to increase resources for the public sector, despite higher demands and expectations of citizens for better services, focus on efficiency and effectiveness.

European countries are meeting these challenges in different ways. The permanent need for change has lead to reforms and restructuring, and also reducing of the public sector. Labour conditions and the status of public servants are under pressure. More horizontal relations and the inclusion of all stakeholders in processes, as well as other ways of public-private partnerships, are demanding high standards of ethics and integrity. New tasks and new working methods, the influence of eGovernment and Europeanisation, as well as the increase of outcome and performance orientation, are requiring new competences from both employees and managers. The labour market situation in Europe affords permanent attention to the competitiveness, attractiveness and the image of the public sector in order to attract or retain the best people for the job. The management of public organisations are facing the challenge of leading their organisations through permanent change, while at the same time improving their own competences to do so.

The purpose of this topic is to demonstrate the variety of solutions that are being found in order to meet these challenges by the management, especially at the top level of public organisations.


The top management of public organisations has to balance the interests of all stakeholders, such as politicians, citizens and enterprises, and their employees. They have a role as policy maker and as employer. Each top manager has his or her own qualities, but in order to face the challenges, they also need the other members of the management team; using the qualities of others in the organisation in an effective and motivational way.

They should perform as leaders instead of only as managers, while being able to bring movement and change to the organisation in a way that encourages most of the employees to want to be part of the movement. For the management this will mean: strategic thinking and vision; high values of integrity and ethics; getting the best from people; making a personal impact; self reflection for continued learning and improvement; focusing on outcome; building relations and supporting teams; and creating shared understanding and values. To cover all the required competences, the top management has to operate as a complementary team.

Managers have a permanent need to develop their competences, both as individuals and as a team. Due to a very limited time and mostly a long period of experience within the organisation, the development of this group demands a special approach; both regarding the content and the methods used.

The composition of the management team also requires special attention, since in many public organisations there is no balance in the teams between women and men, young and old, cultural or national backgrounds. To face these challenges, with an increasingly European and even international dimension, a good diversity balance in the top management of public sector organisations is needed. As far as this requires renewal of labour conditions for a better work/life balance (e.g. working time arrangements) or better communication (more languages or multicultural tools/trainings), it will be of benefit to all in the organisation, as well as to society in general; thus increasing the attractiveness of public organisations on the labour market.

This topic is looking for showcase projects based on how public organisations meet these new challenges for the organisations by displaying improvement and leadership development of the top public managers.

NOTE: The focus is not on the best leader as such, but on ways to improve leadership in the organisation. Individual persons cannot be nominated; only projects.


Projects under THEME 4 should demonstrate and contain elements of proven evidence on one of the following subtopics:

  • Increased efficiency and effectiveness of leadership by training/development activities for individuals and/or teams (measured);
  • Innovative pilots to improve methods for self-reflection, development and improvement of top managers in public organisations;
  • Increased motivation for (permanent) change by good leadership;
  • Inclusion of diversity, ethics and the European/international dimension in the top management;
  • The impact on leadership performance of working as a complementary team;
  • The proven advantage of top management creating a strategy, shared vision and shared values by a common process in the organisation;
  • Employees' satisfaction with leadership and change measured, and results successfully implemented.


All European public sector institutions from all levels - with special attention to local and regional approaches, as well as public sector enterprises, agencies or public-private partnerships - are eligible to submit their projects for the award. Other eligibility criteria to be fulfilled are:

  • European geographical origin of the application;
  • Compliance with the themes (one thematic area per project only) of the EPSA 2009 competition;
  • The working language of the EPSA 2009 is English, thus it is strongly recommended to submit projects in English;
  • The lead applicant must be a public sector institution or authorities (other applicants can be private, semi-public, NGO or academic);
  • The application/project/case must have been in operation long enough to have proven evidence of impact/result;
  • Completed application form;
  • Confirmation that the application has been submitted (i.e. notification mail and registration number) before deadline (hrs).


It is encouraged to submit projects showing consideration of gender mainstreaming, technology (ICT-enabled solutions) and environmental sustainability aspects.


The submitted applications will first be checked for eligibility. If the criteria set above have been met, a registration number will be allocated, and the project will be reviewed and assessed by an internationally acknowledged, independent and impartial pool of experts. The evaluation process also includes on-site visits to a small number of short-listed projects per theme.

When submitting their projects, applicants should pay particular attention to the following general criteria used for the selection of the best projects:

  • Innovation: novelty of the solution; degree to which the case shows a leap of creativity in public administration progress; something different that goes beyond what currently exists;
  • Public concern: degree of addressing a pressing need or important problem of public concern; the project topic is high on the agenda in European public organisations;
  • Significance/Relevance: the project deals with a sufficient number of public sector bodies; a critical mass of actors is tackling the issue;
  • Impact: the realisation of planned objectives and activities; the provision and illustration of proven evidence and benefits; results demonstration;
  • Learning capacity and transferability: with lessons of potential value to other entities; the project provides the potential for successful replication by other governments; it stimulates improvement in its application and provides mutual learning perspectives.

Applications submitted under THEME 4 will furthermore be judged against the following specific criteria under this topic:

  • Employees' acceptance (involvement of all stakeholders in the processes; balance between interests of organisation and employees); 
  • Outcome orientation (real influence on the cultural orientation of the organisation);
  • Real change (new methods, style and forms of working in the organisation).


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