From bureaucratic to post-bureaucratic: the difficulties of transition

E Josserand, S Teo, S Clegg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Modern bureaucracies are under reconstruction, bureaucracy being no longer “modern”; they are becoming “post” bureaucratic. Defining the post‐bureaucratic organization as a hybrid form provides insight into the intrinsic difficulties involved in the refurbishment of large complex organizations. The purpose of this paper is to examine these difficulties empirically.

The paper describes the case of an Australian public sector agency, subject to “corporatization” – a metamorphosis from a strictly public sector outlook to one that was imputedly more commercial. It focuses on the transition from personnel management to strategic HRM in the HR function.

A series of difficulties affected these changes: difficulties in inventing a new identity; differences in perception of that identity; organizational philosophy towards strategic HRM; unsuitability of extent networks; and identity conflicts. Two factors emerge as the core explanation for the difficulties encountered: the “stickiness of identity” and the difficulties associated with network development.

The paper outlines the difficulties experienced in the putative “refurbishment” of a large public sector agency as it made its way to “corporatization”.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-64
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Organizational Change Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes


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