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On: 19 March 2008
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Journal of Change Management
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http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t713703618
Editorial: Managing Organizational Change in Public
Services
Rune Todnem By; Calum Macleod
Online Publication Date: 01 March 2008
To cite this Article: By, Rune Todnem and Macleod, Calum (2008) 'Editorial:
Managing Organizational Change in Public Services', Journal of Change
Management, 8:1, 1 - 2
To link to this article: DOI: 10.1080/14697010801937168
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14697010801937168
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Editorial: Managing Organizational
Change in Public Services
Given the essentially political terrain that public services inhabit, it is perhaps not
surprising that organizational change is a constant theme as governments strive to
deliver more, better, faster in an endless search for the ‘4Es’ of economy, effi-
ciency, effectiveness and equity in public services design and delivery. Indeed,
the evolution of public services management has been marked by a distinctive
shift from traditional post-1945 notions of ‘public administration’, emphasizing
hierarchical state control and highly bureaucratized institutional structures and
processes, to that of ‘new public management’ (NPM) in the 1980s and early
1990s; the latter adopting an essentially managerialist perspective on the delivery
of public services in which markets, competition, individualism and measurable
performance were dominant characteristics. More recently, in the United
Kingdom and elsewhere, governments have sought to chart a ‘third way’ in
which elements of the public, private and voluntary sectors are fused together
within partnership-based cross-sectoral delivery arrangements in pursuit of
public services which achieve the ‘4Es’ highlighted previously.
The shifting sands of governmental preferences regarding what objectives
public services should deliver (be it in relation to health and well-being, economic
opportunity, education or security) and how they should deliver them, present sig-
nificant change challenges for public service organizations, managers and other
interested stakeholders to navigate. A far from inexhaustible list of such chal-
lenges includes: ensuring organizational alignment with the political environment
and integration of political preferences; managing institutional and individual
power relationships; setting the parameters of managerial discretion and
employee empowerment; and responding to new imperatives regarding perform-
ance measurement and evaluation in public services.
This special issue of the Journal of Change Management represents a timely
juncture at which to pause to examine a number of these challenges as they
relate to the process of managing organizational change within public services
contexts. The first article, by Ferna´ndez-Alles and Llamas-Sa´nchez, explores
how neoinstitutional theory can explain change in public services. By and col-
leagues then propose ways of managing organizational change in public services,
in this case European Higher Education, successfully by providing a new concep-
tual change management model and a decision-maker’s change manifesto.
Journal of Change Management
Vol. 8, No. 1, 1–2, March 2008
1469-7017 Print/1479-1811 Online/08/010001–2 # 2008 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/14697010801937168
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Dovey draws attention to the structural inhibitors of effective service delivery
within a South African public health organization. Furthermore, he outlines a
new initiative that aims to facilitate the decentralization of decision-making
power in an attempt to transform the service offered by this organization. Conti-
nuing with the theme of public health organizations, Klarner and colleagues
analyze and compare the World Health Organization’s change capacity in
different contexts through a recently established conceptual framework for
change capacity.
The two final articles are more general in focus, but the issues raised and sug-
gestions provided are clearly of interest to people involved with public services
management. McGuire and colleagues note that by devolving responsibility for
human resource (HR) practices to line managers, public services organizations
expect a closer relationship between line managers and employees resulting in
speedier decision-making and more effective resolution of workplace problems.
In order to facilitate such change they present a model identifying the context,
enablers and inhibitors of line manager HR involvement. The last article, by
Karp and Helgø, describes a way for public services leaders to lead chaotic
change by influencing the patterns of human interaction and to focus change man-
agement on people, identity and relationships by changing the way people talk in
the organization.
Rune Todnem By and Calum Macleod
2 Editorial