The Multilingual Public Administration
While government may claim it practices benign neglect with respect to religion, it cannot practice it in regard to languages. Public authorities at any level must decide on a language in which they conduct their business: a fully a-linguistic state simply does not and cannot exist. The choice of the state as to which language(s) should be used for official purposes is challenging because it influences the extent to which language-related publicly-provided goods and services are accessible to people speaking different languages. Official forms, legal texts, websites containing information on the rights and the duties of citizens, procurements procedures, job announcements, tenders, phone calls managed by public call centres, oral communication at the tax office are necessarily provided in or held in at least one language.
Depending on the set of official languages and on the distribution of skills in the population, the language policy can entail real or perceived political disenfranchisement, unfair treatment of citizens wishing to apply for jobs in the public administration, and in extreme cases also violations of certain rights. Public administration, nevertheless, must have multilingual staff and language mediation services to be able to provide goods in several languages.
The lack of such requirements can become a public issue and therefore the object of public policy. This project examines, in a comparative perspective, selected aspects of the language policy targeting public administrations in multilingual countries or regions (in particular, Wales, Scotland and in Northern Ireland, Friuli and South Tirol in Italy, two bilingual regions in Slovenia, and the federal administration of Canada and Switzerland). In the public administrations of some of these regions/countries, bilingual public servants receive a wage premium called “bilingualism bonus” if they learn and use the minority language(s) in addition to the official one. This policy instrument is a form of “performance-related pay”.
In general, the literature on performance-related pay shows that this instrument is not effective in promoting performance improvements in the public sector. The intrinsic motivation of staff civil servants better explains variation in performance. Under certain circumstances, performance-related pay can entail counterproductive effects. Surprisingly, there is no evaluation of the effectiveness of this instrument in language policy, although the resources invested for its implementation are far from negligible (in the two bilingual regions of Slovenia, for example, the government invests €4 million a year for the bilingualism bonus policy).
The project investigates the evolution of the bilingualism bonus in some of the countries/regions in which it has been adopted. It clarifies the micro-economic incentives built in it. It collects and systematises evidence on its effectiveness, and it critically compares the bilingualism bonus with other policy instruments adopted in bilingual public administrations.
The project seeks to understand the persistence of the bilingualism bonus programmes. Is performance-related pay effective in language policy (contrary to evidence collected in other areas of public intervention) or has it become a simple entitlement for employees and the unions?
The methods of research are interdisciplinary, and they should ideally include one of the following areas: policy evaluation, policy analysis, microeconomic theory, and quantitative methods.
2. Essential Criteria
- Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)
- Research proposal of 2000 words detailing aims, objectives, milestones and methodology of the project
3. Desirable Criteria
- If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.
-A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
4. Funding (one among the two)
- DFE: The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 14,777 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK.
- Vice Chancellors Research Scholarships (VCRS): The scholarships will cover tuition fees and a maintenance award of £14,777 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). Applications are invited from UK, European Union and overseas students.