32 SES 06, Resistance and Dissent as Elements of Organizational Change
A current political concern in many OECD countries is the co-creation of new welfare policy and practice through collaboration between multiple stakeholders in order to innovate public services with fewer resources (Ansell & Torfing, 2014; Christensen & Lægreid, 2011). Research on such changing collaborative governance processes explores both potentials and problems, when different stakeholders such as politicians, administrators, frontline staff and citizens are engaged in welfare innovation (Osborne, 2009; Ansell & Gash, 2008; Griggs & Sullivan, 2014). Whereas the potential of public innovation and value-creation are intriguing to democratic ideals, the challenges include cultural diversity, conflicts, misunderstandings and inefficiency. Nonetheless, the literature stresses that despite the challenges, the demand for collaborative governance in welfare policy is needed now more than ever (Bryson et al., 2015). Accordingly, new collaborative models and management concepts are developed to advance theoretically with respect to these complications. However, as they remain to challenge in practice, a growing research aim is to understand the change dynamics that emerge through collaborative processes (Vangen & Winchester, 2013; Purdy, 2012; Plotnikof, 2016). Therefore, issues such as diversity management, process design and power are being investigated; however, central matters of e.g. resistance are surprisingly overseen – although resistance to political changes and welfare reform processes is not novel.
As such, resistance is not given much attention in the governance literature, if so merely as a destructive obstacle or as lacking individual adaptability to change amongst stakeholders (Kumar et al., 2007). Contrary to this, resistance is a central theme to a stream of research on organizational change processes (Thomas & Davies, 2005; Ford, Ford & D’amelio, 2008; Hernes & Maitlis, 2010; Plotnikof, 2015). These studies take a discursive perspective to approach resistance and power as intertwined in change dynamics, thus offering theorizing valuable to governance studies concerning political change. From such perspectives, resistance becomes a constitutive force intertwined with power struggles that affect changes in organizing processes and actor’s identities as new policies enter practice. Rather than a top-bottom linear change process, this is taken to be a complex and tensional dynamic by which change emerges in ongoing meaning negotiations and struggles of power-resistance (Putnam et al. 2005; Thomas, Sargent & Hardy, 2011; Thomas & Hardy, 2011). This dislocates the attention on resistance from a merely destructive or individual problem, to a productive, but also a tensional driver in change processes.
As regards, this paper investigates the constitutive role of resistance during collaborative change processes initiated by local educational management departments to meet central political reforms, as the different involved actors struggle to turn political visions into practice. However, rather than approaching such struggles as necessarily destructive, this study questions how resistance is negotiated and affect the emerging organizational changes constitutive to such reforms in practice? In answering this, the paper theorizes power-resistance relations as critical change dynamics and unfolds this through empirical analyses. Such theorization can contribute to advance the study on the organizational changes emerging through current welfare reform processes by means of novel conceptualizations and new empirical knowledge.
Ansell, C. & Gash, A. (2008): Collaborative governance in theory and practice’, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 18(4): 543–571. Ansell, C. & Torfing, J. (2014): Public Innovation through Collaboration and Design. New York: Routledge Publishing. Bryson, J.M., Quick, K.S., Slotterback, C.S. & Crosby, B.C. (2012): Designing Public Participation Processes. Public Administration Review, 73(1): 23-34. Christensen, T. & Lægreid, P. (2011): Complexity and hybrid public administration—Theoretical and empirical challenges, Public Organization Review 11(4): 407–423. Ford, J.D., Ford, L.W. & D’amelio, A. (2008): Resistance to change: the rest of the story, Academy of Management Review, 33(2): 362-377. Griggs, S. & Sullivan, H. (2014): Necessity as the Mother of Reinvention: Discourses of Innovation in Local Government. In Ansell, C. & Torfing, J. (Eds): Public Innovation Through Collaboration and Design. New York, Routledge. Hernes, T. & Maitlis, S. (2010): Process, Sensemaking, and Organizing, Oxford University Press, UK. Kumar, S., Kant, S. & Amburgey, T.L. (2007): Public Agencies and Collaborative Management Approaches, Administration & Society, 39(5): 569-610. Osborne, S.P. (2009): The New Public Governance? Emerging Perspectives on the Theory and Practice of Public Governance. New York: Routledge Publishing. Plotnikof, M. (2015): Negotiating Collaborative Governance designs: A discursive approach, The Innovation Journal: The Public Sector Innovation Journal. 20(3): 1-22. Plotnikof, M. (2016): Letting go of Managing? Struggling over Managerial Roles in Collaborative Governnace, Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies, 6(1):1-19 (forthcoming) Purdy, J.M. (2012): A Framework for Assessing Power in Collaborative Governance Processes, Public Administration Review, 49(3): 675-689. Putnam, L., Grant, D., Michelson, G. & Cutcher, L. (2005): Discourse and resistance, Management Communication Quarterly, 19(1): 5-18. Thomas, R. & Davies, A. (2005): Theorizing the micro-politics of resistance: New public management and managerial identities in the UK public services, Organization Studies 28(5): 683–706. Thomas, R., Sargent, L.D. & Hardy, C. (2011): Managing organizational change: Negotiating meaning and power-resistance relations, Organization Science 22(1): 22–41. Thomas, R. & Hardy, C. (2011): Reframing resistance to organizational change, Scandinavian Journal of Managament, 27(3): 322-331. Vangen, S. & Winchester, N. (2013): Managing cultural diversity in collaborations, Public Management Review. 16(5): 686-707.
The programme is updated regularly (each day in the morning)
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.