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Beyond acceptance and resistance: entrepreneurial change agency in policy implementation

McDermott, Aoife Mary ORCID:, Fitzgerald, Louise and Buchanan, David A. 2013. Beyond acceptance and resistance: entrepreneurial change agency in policy implementation. British Journal of Management 24 (S1) , S93-S115. 10.1111/1467-8551.12012

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This article explores how the implementation of public policy can differ from that mandated, and argues that such departures are not necessarily a problem. Organisational change faces theoretical tension between considering non-acceptance behaviours as ‘resistance’, and requiring change recipients to tailor and adapt change agendas to fit local contexts. This tension is particularly salient in the public sector, due to the mandated nature of much public reform. We compare the implementation of policy change in four hospital case studies in two countries (Ireland and the UK). Based on interviews with 68 staff across the four cases, we identify how change recipients can react to, translate and contribute to policy change initiatives. Our findings challenge straightforward distinction between change agents and change recipients, showing how ‘first-order’ recipients can act as ‘second-order’ change agents. Entrepreneurial second-order change agents use locally contextualized change agency to tailor and embellish policy mandates. We distinguish between ‘adapters’, who make appropriate local adjustments, and ‘extrapreneurs’ who add extra dimensions to mandated change. This evidence suggests replacing the traditional ‘acceptance-resistance’ dichotomy with a continuum of responses to mandated policy, identifying how public sector actors can variously avoid, abstain, adopt, adapt, or add to those agendas.

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: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 1045-3172
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2022 10:03

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