Bureau-Shaping Theories and Public Management Reforms

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Bureau-Shaping Theories and Public Management Reforms

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Publication Conference Paper, other
Title Bureau-Shaping Theories and Public Management Reforms
Author(s) Hall, Patrik ; Nilsson, Tom ; Löfgren, Karl
Date 2008
English abstract
New Public Management (NPM) reform ideas are, in the literature, usually portrayed as exogenous models which somehow permeate public organisations (cf. Pollitt & Bouckaert, 2004). Hitherto, the question whether internal organisational motives for creating new units has been a contributing factor to the diffusion of NPM ideas has been notably overlooked. It is our contention that theories on bureau-shaping can complement other frameworks for describing the diffusion of NPM reforms. That is, bureaucrats (i.e. public management) can use the ‘discourse’ of NPM for pursuing the creation of new, more policy-shaping and second order functional, units and offices (for example, benchmarking, communication etc) within public organisations, thereby replacing old bureaucratic layers with ‘novel’ offices detached from the daily operative functions of bureaucracy. The aim of our paper is to discuss and review strategies for empirical studies of bureau-shaping theory in the light of public management reforms. Whilst Dunleavy's original thoughts have been widely discussed and contested, few actual attempts have been made to transfer them to empirical studies. In this paper, we examine some of the main traits of criticism, as well as some of the few attempts to apply the theory empirically. In addition, we propose a research strategy for a comparative empirical study of bureaucratic change within local and state administration in Sweden and Denmark inspired by bureau-shaping theory. From a preliminary case study, we conclude that bureau-shaping may be more of a systematic organisational response to administrative reforms than the utility-maximising strategy of individual bureaucrats.
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES
Note XV Conference of NOPSA (Nordic Political Science Association), Tromsø, Norway August 6-9, 2008
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/7095 (link to this page)

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