The four tides of reform in human resource management are scientific management, war on waste, watchful eye, and liberation management. The textbook says that “understanding the tides of reform helps us to appreciate the public service heritage because the tides highlight recurring themes that characterize such changes” (Berman, Bowman, West, Van Wart, 2020, p. 26). Also indicated by the text is the paradox of the tides; that they go from cynicism of government to confidence. Just from looking at the dates of the landmark legislation that reflect each tide, one can see that the cynical tides (war on waste and watchful eye) seem to surge after scandals like Watergate, while the more optimistic tides (scientific and liberation managements) seem to surge after times of relative prosperity and success in government. It seems likely to me that one could predict how human resources legislation is going to change based on the state of the nation. This ability to potentially predict change could be beneficial for managers and supervisors because they can prepare their staff for incoming legislation that affects their day-to-day operations and maintain efficiency throughout change.
I don’t know if I can rate one tide of reform over another. Obviously, the tides were necessary for the times in which they were implemented. After Watergate, the people of the nation needed to know that things would change and corruption could be curtailed. With the social revolutions of the late ’80s and ’90s, the public sector needed to reflect the more lax but progressive of the people in the workforce. Working in the public sector means managing the expectations of the public and fostering their trust, so if I’m part of an organization that might be less trusted by the public, I need reforms that can build confidence so that once that confidence is achieved, I can implement measures that may increase productivity and innovation in order to ride the tide of the public’s trust. There’s a wishy-washy answer for you, but that’s really how I feel.