Coordinating for Cohesion in the Public Sector of the Future

WP3: Survey of public managers


Survey of senior public sector executives in Europe: What do we know about the impact of NPM and administrative reforms?

A cornerstone of the COCOPS project is the Executive Survey on Public Sector Reform in Europe, an original survey of public sector senior executives in twenty European countries, currently the largest of its kind implemented in Europe. The work package thus provides novel quantitative data regarding NPM reforms and their impacts in Europe by exploring the perceptions, experiences and opinions of the actors involved at close range in the conception and implementation of reforms: public sector executives across Europe active in the areas of (as delineated in the project’s reference points) general government, employment and health. The data resulting from the survey also constitutes a building block for other Work Packages (5-8). The Survey has resulted up until now in 9,638 answers from ten participating countries, and an overall response rate of 29.0%. As such, the results cover a substantial part of the targeted population and can be regarded as a good proxy and by far the most representative dataset for European public administrations collected up until present.

The results of the COCOPS Executive Survey on Public Sector Reform in Europe have now been archived at the GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, and are available under the following link:

Work package related results

  1. WP3 Survey Research report;
  2. Survey codebook;
  3. Questionnaire text;
  4. WP3 country reports: UK, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, IrelandItaly, Netherlands, Norway, Serbia (Serbian language version), Spain;
  5. Cross-national report;
  6. WP3 Policy Brief.

Work package related academic publications


Curry, D., Jilke, S., Hammerschmid, G. & Van de Walle, S. (forthcoming). The State and Perceptions of Public Sector Reform in Europe. In A. Massey & K. Miller, The International Handbook of Public Administration and Governance. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Di Mascio, F., Galli, D., Natalini, A., Ongaro, E. & Stolfi, F. (forthcoming). Path-dependency and the changed European governance: personnel reforms in coping with multiple crises in Italy. International Public Management Journal.

Van de Walle, S. Steijn, B. & Jilke, S. (forthcoming). Extrinsic motivation, PSM and labour market characteristics: A multilevel model of public sector preference in 26 countries. International Review of Administrative Sciencesopen-access-version


Hammerschmid, G., Van de Walle, S., Andrews, R. & Bezes, P. (eds) (2014). Public Administration Reforms in Europe: The View from the Top. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.


Hammerschmid, G., Stimac, V. & Van de Walle, S. (2013). Internal and External Use of Performance Information in Public Organizations: Results from an international survey. Public Money and Management, 33(4): 261-268. open-access-version

Work Description

An original core questionnaire with 31 questions was developed by the survey team, first in English and then translated by each national team in their respective language(s).

The survey is based on a full census of all central government ministries and agencies in the participating countries. Based on the binding sampling principles followed by all teams and reflecting a thorough mapping of national administrations, the sample covers all top and higher-level public sector executives as follows:

  • In central government ministries and subordinated agencies: the two first administrative levels; when deemed necessary due to policy relevance, also third levels were addressed
  • Local government and service delivery levels are excluded
  • In the fields of employment and health, as the project’s special focus areas, regional and state government ministries and agencies are also included if relevant – without addressing however direct service delivery levels

The survey was launched in May 2012 and implemented in two rounds (the first in 2012, followed by a second in late 2013-beginning of 2014), being sent altogether to over 31.000 high ranking civil servants in the twenty participating countries, via post and email. Following the data collection phase, all datasets were cleaned, checked and harmonized according to a standardized procedure for all countries.

The original data will initially only be shared internally by COCOPS team members and other researchers who have contributed directly to the integrated dataset, based on a jointly-agreed data sharing policy. Following the end of the COCOPS project, in June 2014, the data will be more widely accessible to interested parties, based on a renewed data sharing protocol.

First academic publications and presentations can be accessed here (please see also below):

Presentation of COCOPS survey results at the conference ‘Programme Budgeting: More Transparency for Better Results’, organized by the Serbian Ministry of Finance and USAID, Belgrade, Serbia, 15 January 2014

Presentation at the COCOPS High Level Conference, Brussels, December 2013

Presentation of comparative results at the EUPAN 61st Directors General Meeting, Vilnius, December 2013

7th Quality Conference, Vilnius, October 2013

Public Management and Money article on use of performance information

Presentation of comparative survey results at the EUPAN meeting in Dublin, March 2013

Affiliated researchers

The COCOPS executive survey has been additonally implemented in the following countries, with the kind cooperation of the hereafter mentioned researchers:

  • Austria: Renate Meyer, Stephan Leixnering, Sophie Melzer (Vienna University of Economics and Business, Institute for Public Management)
  • Croatia: Tomislav Mičetić, Mirjana Štraus (Ministry of Public Administration)
  • Denmark: Carsten Greve, Niels Ejersbo (Copenhagen Business School)
  • Finland: Turo Virtanen (Helsinki University)
  • Iceland: Pétur Berg Matthíasson (Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs)
  • Ireland:  Richard Boyle ( Institute of Public Administration)
  • Lithuania: Rasa Snapstiene, Rimantas Rauleckas (Kaunas University of Technology, Department of Public Administration)
  • Portugal: Maria Engrácia Cardim, Luis Mota (Technical University of Lisbon, Center for Public Administration and Public Policies)
  • Serbia: Irena Cerovic (Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence)
  • Sweden: Petter Kockum, Gabriella Jansson ( Statskontoret, Swedish Agency for Public Management)
  • Switzerland: Reto Steiner, Adrian Ritz (University of Bern, Center of Competence for Public Management)

For more information, please see here.

Survey software

Unipark Onlinebefragung

The COCOPS’ public executives survey has been implemented using the Unipark/QuestBack survey-software,


Work package leader:

Gerhard Hammerschmid
Hertie School of Governance

This page has been modified on 27 July 2011