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The drive for change in public organizations: A critical analysis of management fashions

Alexandru V. Roman (Assistant Professor of Public Administration at California State University at San Bernardino)

International Journal of Organization Theory & Behavior

ISSN: 1093-4537

Article publication date: 1 March 2015



For a number of different reasons, some more rational than others, public sector management has often fallen for the allure of the “quick fix” promised by the latest managerial fashion. Although it is commonly accepted that complex problems rarely, if ever, have simple solutions − this has not hindered public organizations from eagerly experimenting with trendy, increasingly radical, managerial practices. More often than not, these experiences, when weighed on the background of the original promises and eventual outcomes, prove to be utter failures. In order to clarify the reasons behind this pattern of failure, this article deconstructs two of the most notable recent managerial fashions: Total Quality Management (TQM) and Business Process Reengineering (BPR). It proposes that management fashions fail to lead to effective and productive organizational change primarily due to the fact that their logical construct, which relies on over-dramatization and oversimplification of organizational realities, is at odds with the operational complexities of public sector management. In particular, they fail to account for politics. To this extent, then, they are more likely to be destructive than productive when zealously adopted in public service.


Roman, A.V. (2015), "The drive for change in public organizations: A critical analysis of management fashions", International Journal of Organization Theory & Behavior, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 454-493.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015 by Pracademics Press

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