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The control imperative

Studies on reorganization in the public and private sectors
PhD ceremony:Mr F. (Fernando) Nieto Morales
When:February 26, 2015
Start:16:15
Supervisor:prof. dr. R.P.M. (Rafael) Wittek
Co-supervisor:dr. L. (Liesbet) Heyse
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
The control imperative

Social and economic changes have brought about a more dynamic and unstable form of capitalism. Organizations have been forced to rethink their structures and processes and adapt them to become more flexible and effective. This dissertation studies these reorganizations. It uses observations drawn from a study of private companies and government agencies in the Netherlands and Mexico to understand some of the recent patterns of organizational change in the public and the private sectors.

Results show, among other things, that managers do not necessarily embark on reorganizations, as assumed in many popular management textbooks, because they are “in control”, but probably because they are not. This implies that managers who detect lack of control are more likely to reorganize; whereas, those who perceive themselves in control will likely resist change.

Further, results also show that the need for control may have important consequences for the implementation of changes in the public sector. The study of a governmental reform in Mexico shows that sometimes managers must sacrifice coordination to achieve compliance. Evidence also suggests that implementing reorganizations in the government does not necessarily imply committing vast financial resources.

Finally, results suggest that since the 1990s, public and private organizations, at least in the Netherlands, seem to be converging. Yet, crucial differences persist. For instance, we show that granting more autonomy to public managers fosters “more change” relative to private ones. This suggests that the common view on the “rigidity” of public organizations may be partially unfounded.