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Change in the Benefits Agency: empowering the exhausted worker?

Foster, Deborah Jane ORCID: and Hoggett, Paul 1999. Change in the Benefits Agency: empowering the exhausted worker? Work, Employment and Society 13 (1) , pp. 19-39. 10.1177/09500179922117773

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Using case study evidence from an investigation of `quality' initiatives and working practices in three offices within a District of the Benefits Agency (BA), this article examines the contradictory role of new public management on employees. Decentralised management, performance related pay, teamwork philosophies and the promotion of a `customer' culture reflect a move away from a traditional civil service bureaucratic form of organisation. However, the implementation of change within local settings has brought about variations in local management approaches, work organisation and staff perceptions. The consequences of these are explored and we consider whether the BA's attempts to empower staff have been thwarted by a progressive intensification of workloads. Our research, by illustrating the importance of variations in local settings, warns of the dangers of evaluating institutional and employment change in the public sector as if it were the result of a coherent and consistent neo-liberal re-structuring strategy. Moreover, it examines reasons why some change initiatives have been unsuccessful. Finally, we identify a recent shift in emphasis within the BA which presages a move away from service quality to economy and draw some initial conclusions about the future impact on employment in this sector.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 9 May 2017
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2022 07:41

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