The paper examines the innovative HR practices of regional administrations in Russia and the inter-regional cooperation between HR departments of regional governmental bodies; in practice the dissemination is complicated by their relations with the federal bodies (national level) responsible for civil-service regulation.
The authors use the case of Russia to describe the positive experience of blended inter-regional (horizontal) and federal-local (vertical) cooperation between HR departments of the civil service (federal, regional, municipal) that started as a “best practices” initiative, guided by the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Russia (MLSP of Russia) in 2015. Several cases of such cooperation are described as examples of positive influence on the civil service with pushing changes, and as a tool to foster civil-service reform.
Our findings lead us to the conclusion that the knowledge and motivation accumulated by the innovative HR practices in regional governmental bodies enables them to overcome political, administrative, financial and legal barriers in public-service reform. From a theoretical perspective, the research shows that the theories of public-administration service reform (institutional and instrumental) should take into account the regional HR practices and inter-regional cooperation that promote those practices. Specific features and benefits of regional innovations help to compensate for the lack of formal political support of reforms, or to conquer bureaucratic resistance to change. As it happened in Russia, the regional initiatives facilitated multiple leadership behaviors that have the capacity to increase the willingness to experiment, expand commitment to innovations, and boost motivation for professional development.
Future research on the influence of new regional HR practices on civil-service reform can be concentrated on the exploration of regional communities of practice (CoP) that are involved in the process of elaborating and disseminating new HR practices. It will provide a better understanding of the limits and possibilities of the regions to support civil-service reform on a national level.