FOR APPROPRIATENESS OR CONSEQUENCES? EXPLAINING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE IN ENGLISH LOCAL GOVERNMENT

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Abstract

New institutional theory suggests that radical organizational change is guided by a logic of appropriateness in which organizations change their structures and processes in response to changes in prevailing notions of how best to organize. Contingency theories suggests, by contrast, that organizations pursue a logic of consequentiality, trying to maximize performance by adjusting structures and processes in response to relatively tangible things like the demand for services and the state of technology. Increasingly, commentators acknowledge the importance of both logics, but how do the two fit together? This paper considers this question through an analysis of 15 cases of radical change observed in four English local authorities. While much of the existing literature seeks to theorize the circumstances in which different logics will predominate, the cases considered here suggest a need to acknowledge the intermingling of logics.

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