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Management tools, organisational culture and leadership: an explorative study

Niels Ole Pors (The Royal School of Library and Information Science, Copenhagen, Denmark)

Performance Measurement and Metrics

ISSN: 1467-8047

Article publication date: 4 July 2008




There are two main purposes in this paper. The first is to explore possible relationships between adoption of management tools in a broad sense, the organisational culture and the character of leadership in libraries. This is a very important area because management tools are diffused, interpreted, translated and implemented in many other ways than intended. The second purpose is to present some major findings of nation‐wide studies done on these topics to raise awareness about the complex relationships and context that influence chance processes in libraries. Connected to these purposes is also the intention to introduce elements of some institutional theories that have been rather neglected in the more rationalistic literature on, for example, performance measurement.


The paper is based primarily on a comprehensive leadership survey conducted in Denmark in 2007 and on a qualitative study based on extensive interviewing of directors and staff members from 24 public libraries. Some supporting material from earlier leadership surveys is included. The theoretical frame for this paper is theories of isomorphism, management standards and recipes together with a model of organisational culture.


The main findings supports some of the newer theoretical literature concerned with isomorphism, translation and diffusion of standards and recipes, namely that the variation is great and that some of the processes are heavily influenced by the organisational culture in which leadership plays an important role. It is also important that the paper emphasises that management tools, whether performance measurement instruments or technological devices, possess both a technical and a symbolic aspect.

Research limitations/implications

The paper reports findings from both a survey and extensive interview research. This implies that only few of the results could be analysed and that the analytical level at some places takes the character of an analysis of tendencies.


The paper reports on several leadership surveys conducted since 2001 in Denmark and the UK. The paper also reports qualitative interview research with 24 library directors and 75 staff members. This research is the first of its kind in Scandinavia and the theoretical perspectives make it also of interest to researchers and professionals outside Scandinavia.



Ole Pors, N. (2008), "Management tools, organisational culture and leadership: an explorative study", Performance Measurement and Metrics, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 138-152.



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