Title: The ritualisation of change in the public sector: a discourse - complexity approach

Authors: Walter Bolwerk; René Brohm

Addresses: Open Universiteit, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands ' Research Institute 'De Nieuwe Kleren van de Wolf', Patrimoniumweg 4, 3941BT Doorn, The Netherlands

Abstract: From a 'complex-processes perspective', organisations are not seen as systems but as ongoing local interactions between people, leading to global patterns without any plan or blueprint. The main question for managers becomes then not 'What can I do to make the organisation become what I want it to become?' but 'What am I doing and experiencing while this organisation is becoming what it becomes?' In this paper, we argue that where the management of an organisation is stuck in a discourse that reflects goal rationality, they are unable to let go of the idea that they shape the organisation according to their ideas. And we can see how this leads to an inability to solve wicked problems, with their innate complexity, resulting in a ritualisation of change, where there is no real change but a semblance of change.

Keywords: new public management; NPM; liminality; wicked problems; organisational discourse; ritual; project management; complexity; change ritualisation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBG.2016.079343

International Journal of Business and Globalisation, 2016 Vol.17 No.4, pp.556 - 571

Available online: 16 Sep 2016 *

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