venerdì 19 settembre 2008

The Alitalia collapse and the Italian way to economic development

The collapse of the Italian air company Alitalia represents an exemplary case about the economic approaches adopted in Italy. One may wonder: what is the effective cause of the Alitalia definitive death? How the immense system of the Italian public services is really managed (health, education, research, security, etc.)? Quality in services, above all public services, is not linked only to the quantity of the implied resources, but it is connected to their global governance. A good governance drives to a good management, a good management to an efficient and effective resources’ use and finally to good results. A scarce quality in public services provision denounces a scarce governance quality as well and a parallel incapability and unwillingness to act in the public interest. In Italy the system of public services doesn’t suffer simplex inefficiencies but complex inefficiencies (diversified and interrelated inefficiencies) which, at different degree, can simultaneously arise such as: allocation inefficiencies (inadequacies in the service production), distribution inefficiencies (inadequacies in the service’s provision), organization inefficiencies (problems in the organization procedures and inner structures) and dynamic inefficiencies (inadequacies in the resources’ use). This network of inefficiencies reverberates its effects first of all in the expenditure capabilities (resource and money wasting, problems in time management and in the modalities and forms of service provision). In the same way, staff and managers’ selection on the base of “friendship”, political affiliation and loyalty rather than capabilities and expertise contributes to determine a dilatation in the human resources’ number with individuals often lacking adequate skills (adverse selection). Furthermore, it should be highlighted the presence of perverse incentive systems (working more or less produces the same effects, no gratifications when lacking right connections and blessing, etc.), the use of management positions as a private property, the organization structuring on the base of the staff and management needs rather than functions, scopes, and mission of the organization. When an organization priority is its existence (self referring attitude) the service provision, which should be the reason of its existence, becomes a sort of “collateral effect” whose quality is never at stake. Services’ quality is a critical indicator about the quality of the persons in charge for their provision. For this reason , in Italy the Railway Company’s mission is not to make people and products move, the Post Service has not the scope to deliver letters, Alitalia goal is not to make passengers travel, an hospital mission is not to cure patients, an university aim is not to train students, etc. but rather an economic re-distribution (through wages and salaries) and the ossification of power systems (through roles and internal positions). Technical and organization solutions are not necessary to change this dramatic scenario: it is rather necessary a real will to change mentality and the courage to hit ossified interests and a pathological inertia but I’m not sure, as the Alitalia case shows, that in Italy today this will really exists…

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