Opening the black box of administrative reform : a strategic-relational analysis of agency responses to termination threats

Katharine Dommett, Chris Skelcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
163 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

How do public agencies respond when reform proposals threaten downsizing, reduction in functions, or termination? Agency survival during administrative reform is conventionally explained by structural characteristics, informed by the hardwiring thesis derived from the politics of the U.S. federal government. Parliamentary systems provide greater opportunity for agency reform, but there is little evidence of how agencies respond to such proposals or how proposals are altered prior to decision. We consider agencies as active participants in the reform processes, using strategic-relational theory to analyse their strategizing. The article employs detailed empirical evidence on 12 agencies subject to reform by the UK government between 2010 and 2013. We identify three archetypical defence strategies—technical expert, network node, and marginal adaptor—and argue that coding agency strategies alongside structural analysis can help better explain reform outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)540-563
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Public Management Journal
Volume17
Issue number4
Early online date9 Dec 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Public Administration

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