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Case
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Reference no. 323-0030-1
Published by: Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford
Originally published in: 2023
Version: 16 June 2022
Notes: For terms & conditions go to www.thecasecentre.org/freecaseterms

Abstract

In 2014, Nana Agyekum-Dwamena was named Ghana's Head of Civil Service, tasked with reforming the 14,000-person institution that was widely considered to be plagued by low motivation, inefficiency, and weak performance. Just a few weeks into the job, he was approached with an opportunity from the World Bank, which provisionally offered to fund a multi-year reform programme that Agyekum-Dwamena could design. In many ways, it was a compelling offer: the Civil Service had extremely limited financial resources, yet improving its performance remained a political priority. However, Agyekum-Dwamena had seen a series of donor-funded reforms fail to deliver since he had joined the civil service in the 1980s. The donor-funded projects often came with high administrative costs, and most had halted when funding ended or a new administration came into office. Agyekum-Dwamena had to decide if he should design a wide-sweeping reform programme to pitch to the development partner, or if he had other levers available for improving performance. For Agyekum-Dwamena, this decision raised a broader question about how he should approach the task of improving the performance of the civil service. The case is accompanied by an epilogue which describes Agyekum-Dwamena's decision in 2014 and how he approached reform in the years that followed. This case has been made available free of charge.

Teaching and learning

This item is suitable for postgraduate and executive education courses.

Time period

The events covered by this case took place in 2014.

Geographical setting

Region:
Africa
Country:
Ghana

Featured company

Office of the Head of Civil Service, Government of Ghana

Featured protagonist

  • Nana Agyekum-Dwamena (male), Head of Civil Service

About

Abstract

In 2014, Nana Agyekum-Dwamena was named Ghana's Head of Civil Service, tasked with reforming the 14,000-person institution that was widely considered to be plagued by low motivation, inefficiency, and weak performance. Just a few weeks into the job, he was approached with an opportunity from the World Bank, which provisionally offered to fund a multi-year reform programme that Agyekum-Dwamena could design. In many ways, it was a compelling offer: the Civil Service had extremely limited financial resources, yet improving its performance remained a political priority. However, Agyekum-Dwamena had seen a series of donor-funded reforms fail to deliver since he had joined the civil service in the 1980s. The donor-funded projects often came with high administrative costs, and most had halted when funding ended or a new administration came into office. Agyekum-Dwamena had to decide if he should design a wide-sweeping reform programme to pitch to the development partner, or if he had other levers available for improving performance. For Agyekum-Dwamena, this decision raised a broader question about how he should approach the task of improving the performance of the civil service. The case is accompanied by an epilogue which describes Agyekum-Dwamena's decision in 2014 and how he approached reform in the years that followed. This case has been made available free of charge.

Teaching and learning

This item is suitable for postgraduate and executive education courses.

Settings

Time period

The events covered by this case took place in 2014.

Geographical setting

Region:
Africa
Country:
Ghana

Featured company

Office of the Head of Civil Service, Government of Ghana

Featured protagonist

  • Nana Agyekum-Dwamena (male), Head of Civil Service

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