The small, but significant steps taken by the men within: a complementary understanding of incremental public organisation changes

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The small, but significant steps taken by the men within: a complementary understanding of incremental public organisation changes

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Publication Conference Paper, peer reviewed
Title The small, but significant steps taken by the men within: a complementary understanding of incremental public organisation changes
Author(s) Hall, Patrik ; Nilsson, Tom ; Löfgren, Karl
Date 2009
English abstract
Organisational actors in the public sector are often characterised as path-dependent and tending to reject or translate change in accordance with institutional norms, while management change is often interpreted as emanating from “above” (international organisations, governments, thinktanks). In this article we present, inspired by Dunleavy’s bureau-shaping approach, a complementary understanding of incremental changes which goes beyond the existing explanations. Our claim is that incremental changes often are caused by ‘pull-factors’ inside the organisation. Based on an in-depth study of five Swedish public agencies 1980-2005 we present an inductively-derived typology of organisational change. In the five organisations considered, it is shown that the management level has been able to influence changes which emanate from “push-factors” in the environment (such as streamlining, cost reduction and symbolic adaptations). But the paper also highlights more gradual changes – “small but significant steps” - such as increased hiring of social scientists and managerialisation as important features in the process of reconstructing the agencies as policy-making, rather than operational, units, in line with Dunleavy’s general argument. A conclusion to this is that improved policy-making capacity, paradoxically, may reduce Swedish public agencies’ ability to steer.
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES::Social sciences
Note EGPA, European Group of Public Administration, Conference "The Public Service: Service Delivery in the Information Age" 2-5 September 2009 in Malta
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/9212 (link to this page)
Link http://www.egpa2009.com/ (external link to related web page)

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