Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the adoption of managerial innovations in the public sector, identifying the reasons why their uptake and use may fail. Design/methodology/approach – The problem is investigated empirically through a case study approach. The change processes resulting from the adoption of two managerial innovations within the same Italian Central Government Institution are illustrated in detail. Findings – Both cases represent a failure in the adoption and use of managerial innovations, attributable to a complex interplay of external and organisational forces. The empirical investigation points out the relevancy of individuals' actions and choices. The real explanation for the failure of both projects in fact seems to be key individuals' inability: first to “make sense” of what the innovation was about and second to communicate this “sense” throughout the organisation. Research limitations/implications – The findings are based on data from the Italian Central Government, and as such are not extendable elsewhere. However, the mechanisms of change examined here may be of wider interest to other public sector organisations. Originality/value – The paper analyses a real‐world attempt to deploy managerial innovations in the public sector, and the resultant impact. A theoretical framework based on institutional theory and its recent advances is used to better understand the plural factors influencing the use of managerial innovations.
International Journal of Public Sector Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 26, 2010
Keywords: Public sector organizations; Managerialism; Innovation; Organizational change; Central government; Italy
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