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Janus and the Bureaucrats: Middle Management in the Public Sector

Thomas, Robyn and Dunkerley, D. 1999. Janus and the Bureaucrats: Middle Management in the Public Sector. Public Policy and Administration 14 (1) , pp. 28-41. 10.1177/095207679901400103

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Two dominant discourses have been identified as underpinning the restructuring of public sector organisations - the New Right ideology (free markets, customer sovereignty, individualism) and the 'post-modernism' position emphasising change, discontinuity and flexibility in organisations. Both are centrally critical of bureaucracy either because of its inefficiency or of its obsolescence respectively. In both views, middle management is a key problem that can be overcome by delayering but middle management is also a solution through implementing change and encouraging the new culture of initiative and entrepreneurialism. The article reports on original research focussing on the perceptions of middle managers in a range of public sector organisations. Rather than moving towards a post-bureaucratic form, the findings suggest that change is being driven by opportunistic cost-cutting leading to a disillusioned and demoralised middle management stratum experiencing long working hours, feelings of job insecurity and working within a strong performance culture - a culture that remains very bureaucratic. Many of the traditional middle management frustrations remain and are exacerbated by the pressures to achieve increasingly demanding targets with little discretion or decision-making opportunity. The article argues that this is the latest stage in the evolution of bureaucracy rather than its impending demise.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 0952-0767
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 04:27

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