Hurahura Research

Our research role

The Public Service Commission and the New Zealand public service are continually working to improve how public services deliver for New Zealanders. As we work on improving public services now, we must also keep an eye to the future, so that New Zealanders have a public service that better meets their needs and remains relevant in a changing world.

Part of the Commission’s core function is to provide leadership and over-sight of the public service and ensure the purpose of the Public Service Act is carried out.  From time to time, Commission staff need to do a deeper dive to understand a problem. Sometimes this involves a literature review or empirical research and analysis. Other times it can involve engaging with public administration theory to develop new understandings, or reflective practice and insights.

This collection of papers have been commissioned, written or contributed to by Commission staff members in order for us to get a better understanding of various challenges facing the public service, so that we can continue to work on improving how public services deliver for New Zealanders. The Commission’s aim in sharing the papers here is to make these ideas and analyses available to a wider audience, and to inform and encourage public debate, with the ultimate aim of informing our work.

If you have any questions, would like reports in a different format or are interested in discussing this work, please email:

Disclaimer:  The views, opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these papers are strictly those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the Commission or the New Zealand Government.

Please note: Prior to August 2020, the Public Service Commission was known as the State Services Commission. Documents published prior to this date refer to the Commission by this earlier name.

26 - 50 of 115 results

01 April 2021

Public Service Principles - What are they and what do they mean for public servants

Hannah Cameron and Callum Butler of Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission describe the new Public Service principles and explore what they’ll mean for the future Public Service.

Magazine Research
01 March 2021

When the going gets tough, the goal-committed get going: overcoming transactions costs of interagency collaborative governance

Collaborative governance, despite being a fraught endeavour, is sometimes the only option for addressing cross-agency problems.

Journal article Research
01 February 2021

Trust and Resilience: How Public Service Principles Encouraged Compliance with COVID-19 Public Health Guidelines in New Zealand

In fall 2020, the IBM Center for The Business of Government initiated a Challenge Grant Competition soliciting essays from academics and practitioners describing how government can best transform the way it works, operat…

Book/chapter Research
01 December 2020

Institutional Memory as Storytelling: How Networked Government Remembers

How do bureaucracies remember? The conventional view is that institutional memory is static and singular, the sum of recorded files and learned procedures. Drawing on four policy examples from four sectors (housing, ener…

Book/chapter Research
01 December 2020

Pursuing the public interest

What does it mean to pursue the public interest? This idea sits at the heart of the Public Service Act 2020. Rodney Scott, Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales and Kaitohutohu Mātāmua Chief Policy Adv…

Magazine Research
01 December 2020

Drawing new boundaries: Can we legislate for administrative behaviour?

A central question of public administration is how public administrators make decisions within organisational frames and context. Public administrators cannot and do not make purely rational decisions based on means-ends…

Conference paper Research
06 October 2020

Spirit of Service speech

Introductory lecture on Te hāpai hāpori – a spirit of service to the community for ANZSOG course Managing Public Sector Organisations.

Journal article Research
01 July 2020

Collaborative Governance and System Dynamics Modelling: What do clients want

This chapter reports on group decision making in the context of public policy design and implementation and explores which outcomes are important to potential clients in the New Zealand public sector.

01 April 2020

Determined to succeed: Can goal commitment sustain interagency collaboration?

Governments have struggled with addressing problems that cross agency boundaries. Since 2012, the New Zealand Government has achieved significant success by holding groups of agencies collectively responsible for achievi…

Journal article Research
01 March 2020

Making sense of New Zealand’s ‘spirit of service’: social identity and the civil service

This paper explores the creation a more unified civil service in New Zealand with the Public Service Act 2020, which promotes the most profound changes to the public service since New Zealand’s New Public Management heyd…

15 August 2019

Public Service Reform – the challenges ahead

A keynote speech by Hugo Vitalis (then Acting Deputy Commissioner, Strategy and Policy, State Services Commission) at the 2019 Public Sector Conference, Wellington.

Presentation Research
23 July 2019

Innovations in governance – developing collective accountability in New Zealand

This paper examines how formal collective accountability can help bind agencies together. As a leader in the New Public Management reforms of the 1980s and 90s, New Zealand divided its public sector into a large number o…

Conference paper Research
17 April 2019

Public service motivation and social identity

This paper considers some possible implications of social identity for public administration, with particular regard to joined-up government, integrity, and performance.

01 April 2019

Service, Citizenship, and the Public Interest: New Public Service and our public service reforms

This report summarises the New Public Service paradigm as it might apply to the New Zealand public service.

Working paper Research
01 April 2019

How “independence” drives governance and form choices – a draft framework for future practice

This paper seeks to bring together some apparently disparate ideas about “independence” across a range of government roles and activities, such as policy, administrative decision-making, regulation and oversight, to supp…

Working paper Research
01 April 2019

Does ethnicity affect trust in public services?

To be effective, public institutions need to be trusted widely, by citizens across differing socioeconomic backgrounds. The Kiwis Count survey measures New Zealanders’ trust in public services.

Conference paper Research
01 April 2019

Organising for complex problems – beyond contracts, hierarchy and markets

Conference paper This paper proposes a heuristic device for the selection and use of network forms that begins to illustrate some of the changes to the performance management framework that would be needed to effectively…

Conference paper Research
29 October 2018

A comparison of management adaptations for joined‐up government: Lessons from New Zealand

This paper explores the conditions that may have enabled the most progress and possible management adaptations when these initial conditions are not fully met. 

Journal article Research
17 June 2018

Group Model Building: Using Systems Dynamics to Achieve Enduring Agreement

This book describes the cognitive and interpersonal effects of group model building, and presents empirical research on what group model building achieves and how. 

Book/chapter Research
01 April 2018

A new economics of public services Lessons from using targets and quasi markets in the UK and New Zealand

A new economics of public services Lessons from using targets and quasi markets in the UK and New Zealand

Authors: Rodney Scott, Gwyn Bevan
Format: Working paper
Date published: 1…

Working paper Research
01 March 2018

Singular memory or institutional memories? Towards a dynamic approach

In this article, we distinguish between two different ways of thinking about institutional memory: one “static” and one “dynamic.”

01 February 2018

Interagency collaboration to reduce crime in New Zealand

This short video case study describes the efforts of the New Zealand Justice Sector to reduce crime and criminal reoffending between 2012 and 2016. 

Case study Research
01 January 2018

Interpersonal Success Factors for Strategy Implementation: A Case Study Using Group Model Building

A case study using validated survey methods yielded promising results, and suggests that further study is needed. This application of group model building may be a manifestation of the IKEA affect, where individuals valu…

01 April 2017

Explaining how group model building supports enduring agreement

System dynamics models are typically used to simulate the behaviour of the problem system under discussion environment, to help understand and solve complex problems. This paper creates a combined model that links the fi…

Journal article Research
15 March 2017

Interagency Performance Targets: A Case Study of New Zealand’s Results Programme

From 2012 to 2017, the New Zealand government has held groups of senior public servants collectively responsible for achieving performance targets for improving persistent crosscutting problems. In this report, Rodney Sc…

Book/chapter Research