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Public sector paradigms and top officials' blended identities

Forschungsfeld: Internes Management von Stadtverwaltungen

Understandings of the role and tasks of the public sector are shaped by paradigms (Public Administration, New Public Management, and Public Governance), yet translated differently in different local settings. Such understandings materialize in public sector governance structures, public organizations, or reform initiatives. They also manifest in the role identities of civil servants. Prior research on role identities has mostly focused on attitudes and values (‘who we are’). We extend this conceptualization by including practices (‘what we do’) and relationships (‘whom we liaise with’) to underscore the practical and relational dimensions of role identities. In this project, we analyze top public sector officials’ role identities in 19 European countries. Previous scholarly work conducted by the research team (Meyer & Hammerschmid 2006a & 2006b; Meyer, Egger-Peitler, Höllerer & Hammerschmid, 2014) pointed to a growing relevance of hybrid identities constituted by elements of all three governance paradigms. Taking these findings as a starting point, we ask for the particular local identity blends.

The aim of the overall survey conducted as part of the COCOPS project (‘Coordinating for Cohesion in the Public Sector of the Future’) was to systematically grasp the trends and impacts of administrative reforms in a comparative way – especially with regards to the fiscal crisis. With more than 20,000 targeted executives and over 7,000 responses from top public sector executives in 19 European countries, it is the largest and most systematic survey of its kind. Currently, first cross-countries analyses are conducted. Preliminary findings have already been communicated to administrative practice and to international academic audiences. This project is a joint initiative with the Institute for Organization Studies.

Projektleitung: Renate Meyer, Stephan Leixnering, Andrea Schikowitz

Partner: Gerhard Hammerschmid, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin  

Support: Eva-Maria Jungmeir, Sophie Melzer