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President-elect Barak Obama’s mandate for the US Presidency was predicated on one simple word – ‘Change’. The simplicity of the word, and of his campaign slogan – ‘Yes We Can’ – belies the complex task of managing change within a dynamic and turbulent fiscal and security environment. Only time will tell whether or not President Obama and his cabinet have the individual and collective skill-sets required to deal with the challenges for change that confront them. Closer to home, the Irish government is also confronted with radical change as it applies to the domestic and international fiscal environment. The Irish banking and financial services sector along with construction and property development have proven especially vulnerable in the current global credit crisis. Amid rising unemployment and shrinking revenue receipts, the main focus of the electorate to date has been on the ability of the government to demonstrate clear and decisive leadership – the ability to confront the crisis, manage change and drive the necessary structural and institutional transformations required for renewed prosperity and growth. In this context, the Irish public service finds itself the subject of some hostile scrutiny of late with some commentators branding it variously as ‘overstaffed’ or ‘bloated’ and ‘highly resistant to change’. Whilst these charges are unfounded as they apply to the public service in general, they are particularly wide of the mark as they apply to the Defence Forces. Indeed, the Defence Forces might be seen as a model for best practice in the manner in which it has downsized and transformed itself to meet the unprecedented fiscal and security challenges that have arisen in the first decade of the 21st century.
Clonan, T., 2009: All Changed, Changed Utterly: The Irish Defence Forces Culture of Change Management, Signal, Vol 7, Issue 2, 41-4.