From bureaucratic to post-bureaucratic: the difficulties of transition

E Josserand, S Teo, S Clegg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose
Modern bureaucracies are under reconstruction, bureaucracy being no longer “modern”; they are becoming “post” bureaucratic. Defining the post‐bureaucratic organization as a hybrid form provides insight into the intrinsic difficulties involved in the refurbishment of large complex organizations. The purpose of this paper is to examine these difficulties empirically.

Design/methodology/approach
The paper describes the case of an Australian public sector agency, subject to “corporatization” – a metamorphosis from a strictly public sector outlook to one that was imputedly more commercial. It focuses on the transition from personnel management to strategic HRM in the HR function.

Findings
A series of difficulties affected these changes: difficulties in inventing a new identity; differences in perception of that identity; organizational philosophy towards strategic HRM; unsuitability of extent networks; and identity conflicts. Two factors emerge as the core explanation for the difficulties encountered: the “stickiness of identity” and the difficulties associated with network development.

Originality/value
The paper outlines the difficulties experienced in the putative “refurbishment” of a large public sector agency as it made its way to “corporatization”.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-64
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Organizational Change Management
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes

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