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Evaluating public sector management approaches towards undeclared work in the European Union

Colin C. Williams (School of Management, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 4 April 2008




This paper seeks to analyse the various approaches being used by the public sector across the European Union to tackle undeclared work and to evaluate the direction of change.


To do this, the National Action Plans for Employment 2001 and 2003 (NAPs) and the National Reform Programmes 2005‐2008 (NRPs) are analysed, along with the data collected in international reviews conducted by the European Employment Observatory in Autumn 2004 and the European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO) in 2005 on undeclared work.


In parallel with public sector management in other realms, where it is accepted that positive reinforcement of “good” behaviour is more effective at eliciting change than negative reinforcement of “bad” behaviour, the finding is that the public sector in EU member states is moving away from solely a repressive approach that seeks to detect and penalise offenders and towards an approach that also seeks to stimulate good behaviour by rewarding compliance. Until now, however, these positive reinforcement measures appear to remain firmly entrenched in a bureaucratic management approach that uses externally imposed direct control systems to generate reactive behaviours, rather than an internalised post‐bureaucratic approach that seeks to generate constructive pro‐activity and commitment to tax morality on the part of populations.


This is one of the first attempts to evaluate how public sector management is tackling undeclared work in European member states.



Williams, C.C. (2008), "Evaluating public sector management approaches towards undeclared work in the European Union", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 285-294.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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