Title: The cultural tripwire: an impediment to changing the bureaucracy

Authors: Marie McHugh, Geraldine O'Brien, Joop Ramondt

Addresses: School of Management, University of Ulster, Shore Road, Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, BT37 0QB, Northern Ireland. Department of Industrial Relations and Human Resources, Graduate, School of Business, University College Dublin, Blackrock, Co Dublin, Republic of Ireland. Faculty of Management, Erasmus University, Postbus 1738, Rotterdam, 3000DR, The Netherlands

Abstract: New approaches to public management evident across Europe have caused many public sector organisations to engage in the formulation of ambitious plans for strategic change, outlining the future direction of usually leaner, meaner and fitter organisations. A number of organisations have experienced some difficulty with the implementation of these plans and a root cause of this seems to lie in a rigid adherence to an outmoded set of cultural values, a bureaucratic structure and old reward systems. This paper explores the process, challenges and rewards experienced by one public sector organisation based in the UK which has attempted to transform its operations in response to the changes which have occurred within its operating environment. The organisation sought to use its involvement in a European transnational human resource development project as a means of facilitating larger scale organisation change. The findings reveal that the openness of the organisation to culture change, together with the attitude and commitment of top management to change are critical factors in the achievement of organisational metamorphosis.

Keywords: public sector; organisation change; culture change; employee participation; human resource development; bureaucracy.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHRDM.2000.000998

International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management, 2000 Vol.1 No.1, pp.109-124

Available online: 18 Aug 2003 *

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