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Ambiguity and irony in policy implementation: The extreme case of a school merger

Wallace, Mike ORCID: and Hoyle, Eric 2008. Ambiguity and irony in policy implementation: The extreme case of a school merger. Presented at: Twelfth International Research Symposium on Public Management (IRSPM XII), Brisbane, Australia, 26-28 March 2008.

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This paper foregrounds the role of ambiguity and irony in the process of change embodied in public policy implementation by examining a setting where their contribution is particularly salient: the merging of hitherto separate organizations. Such a focus offers analytic purchase on endemic ambiguity in meaning and ensuing irony - whether connected with the unintended consequences of actions or ambiguity in language - which are exacerbated by change. The bigger the change required to implement a policy, the bigger the role for ambiguity and irony. The case of policy implementation reported is extreme enough to be terminal for the organizations involved. The merger was part of a policy to reduce surplus student capacity. Here it entailed closing an English first school and its neighbouring middle school, and opening a brand new primary school on the middle school site. Schools are at the smaller and simpler end of the range of public service organizations. But merger is at the larger and more complex end of policies that public managers may be faced with implementing.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2022 07:41

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