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Apposition, contradiction, conflict and domination: The competing discourses of the Finnish municipal manager

Anu Pynnönen (School of Business and Economics, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland)
Tuomo Takala (School of Business and Economics, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 7 October 2014

384

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to qualitatively describe and explain the contemporary Finnish discourse of municipal managers. The emphasis within is on analyzing the encounters of the public sector management discourse and the private sector management discourse, and the effects that these encounters have on the construction and representation of municipal management.

Design/methodology/approach

The study is based on a three-phase discourse analysis, proceeding from the textual and linguistic level through interpretive analysis to critical analysis. This analysis is based on the proceedings and presentations of a seminar of municipal leadership and management, arranged in 2013 in Finland.

Findings

The encounters of the discourses form three types: apposition of actors; contradiction and conflict of contexts; and domination of the private sector discourse. Apposition is a surface-level phenomenon, synonymizing the actors of the two discourses. Contradiction and conflict are caused by the incompatibility of operational and value contexts. Domination is a phenomenon of prioritizing the private sector principles and values in conflict situations. All these may affect the role and work of, as well as expectations toward, the municipal manager.

Research limitations/implications

Further research and more samples are needed to assess wider applicability of the present findings.

Originality/value

The study highlights the roles of language and discourse in the construction and representation of municipal management and managers. It increases the importance of understanding the discursive elements of the new public management phenomenon. In addition, the study supplements the existing macro-level studies.

Keywords

Citation

Pynnönen, A. and Takala, T. (2014), "Apposition, contradiction, conflict and domination: The competing discourses of the Finnish municipal manager", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 27 No. 7, pp. 581-597. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPSM-04-2014-0057

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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