Publications

What happens when the going gets tough? Linking change scepticism, organizational identification, and turnover intentions

In times of increasingly turbulent public sector change and frequent career shifts, the relationship between attitudes towards workplace change, organizational identification and turnover intent are highly relevant, but poorly understood. Using data from the Australian Public Service’s (APS) employee survey, this article examines the psychological mechanisms that lead employees to consider leaving their own organization, and the APS as a whole. The combined effect of sceptically perceived workplace change and strong organizational identification leads to an increase in turnover intentions at the organizational level, which testifies to the potentially destructive effect of workplace changes.

Public Sector Organizations and Reputation

That reputation may serve public organizations as an intangible asset has increasingly been recognized in recent years by public managers and academic scholars alike. Contemporary public organizations operate in environments, which for a number of reasons makes reputation relevant. The chapter is organized as follows. First, we describe how the concept of reputation is defined within the three approaches as well as account for the main theoretical arguments underpinning the empirical findings within each approach. In relation to this, we further discuss into two central aspects for the development of research in public sector organizations. First, we assess the degree to which scholars in the different approaches have come in terms of not only identifying the relevance of reputation for public sector organizations but as importantly in terms of conceptualizing and identifying public sector reputation and reputation‐sensitive behavior performed by these organizations. Second, we assess the degree to which the theories put forward implicitly or explicitly provide for a causal argument reflecting an ambition to move beyond description toward explanation and the empirical identification of causes and effects of public sector organizations’ reputation.

What determines the audiences that public service organisations target for reputation management?

Why do public sector organisations target different stakeholder audiences in their reputation management? Despite the recognition that reputation management is an audience-based exercise, the field lacks studies that systematically analyse which audiences matter for reputation management by different public service organisations. This article examines reputation management by public service organisation in a multi-audience framework. The relevance of different audiences is surveyed at public service organisations that differ in formal-legal distance from government, task, size and environmental turbulence. The strongest and broadest effects are found for more autonomous organisations, who focus their reputation management more on politicians in general and the media and less on their directly responsible Minister.

Evaluatie participatietraject Werkgemeenschap

Voorliggende evaluatie van het participatietraject binnen de Werkgemeenschap dient inzichten aan te reiken om het participatieproces te verbeteren en de Werkgemeenschap te laten uitgroeien tot een dynamisch en werkzaam samenwerkingsmodel. De opdracht was opgebouwd uit twee delen: (1) evaluatie van het participatietraject en het formuleren van aanbevelingen door de opdrachtnemer; en (2) evaluatie en aanbevelingen van de governance (besluitvorming en ondersteuning) van de Werkgemeenschap.

A reputation for what, to whom, and in which task environment: A commentary

The purpose of this commentary is to continue and advance the discussion on the relevance of a reputational approach in the fields of regulation and governance. The authors build on Capelos et al.’s (2016) important study in Regulation & Governance, and discuss several themes that had until then received fairly little empirical and comparative attention in the reputation literature: the dimensionality of reputation, reputation as an audience‐based approach, and the role of the task environment. The commentary reviews the literature, provides a clear account of extant approaches, and sets out pressing questions for future research.

How Multiple Organizational Changes Shape Managerial Support for Innovative Work Behavior: Evidence From the Australian Public Service

Public organizations were once seen as the epitome of stability and implacability. More recently, however, public organizations have been subject to fast-paced environmental change. One common response to the challenges posed by these volatile environments has been the adoption of various organizational changes to make public organizations more adaptable. However, following threat-rigidity theory, this study argues that as employees perceive multiple organizational changes, managerial support for innovative work behavior (IWB) of employees decreases. Analyses on the Australian Public Service (APS) employee census support these assertions. Our results contribute to the literatures on work behavior, organizational innovation, and human resources management, by demonstrating that multiple organizational changes negatively affect managerial support for IWB of individual employees, which may—through their negative impact on individual-level innovations—ultimately affect the very adaptability of organizations that many changes aspire to achieve.

In the Line of Fire: European Financial Regulators before, during, and after the Crisis

A key argument in recent theorizing on the drivers of bureaucratic behaviour is that agencies seek to establish and maintain a unique reputation. While recent years have witnessed substantial empirical support for this claim, the field lacks comparative examinations of the dynamics of reputation and its management throughout crisis periods. This article draws on a systematic media content analysis to explore the exposure and communication responses of the German, Belgian and Danish financial regulators to reputational threats before, during, and after the financial crisis. Our results point at the dynamic and context-sensitive nature of reputation management.

The effects of organisational features on media attention for public organisations

This article seeks to explain the frequency and tone of media attention for public organisations. Expectations are formulated on the impact of fundamental organisational features on the frequency and tone of coverage of public organisations. A fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) is used to analyse the nuanced interplay between legal independence, primary task and organisational size. The results show that this configurational approach is necessary to understand which public organisations appear in the media and how. Legal independence, task and size do not operate independently, but combine in explaining the media attention for public organisations.

Media and bureaucratic reputation: Exploring media biases in the coverage of public agencies

How agencies perceive, process, and prioritize multiple (potentially conflicting) audiences’ expectations of components of their reputations is a core interest of bureaucratic reputation theorists. Agencies must choose which dimension(s) to stress towards specific audiences, a process referred to as ‘prioritizing’. Boon, Salomonsen, Verhoest, and Pedersen challenge a central argument of contemporary bureaucratic reputation theory, namely that prioritizing assumes government agencies to be rational, politically conscious organizations with incentives to avoid reputational damages and political sanctions. The chapter tests the claim that agency behaviour is (at least to some extent) driven by the distinctive logic of the media rather than by assessments of the relative strength of different dimensions of an agency’s reputation that are subjected to threats, or by the nature of the agency’s task.

Wendbare overheid. Aftoetsing, onderbouwing en verrijking van de Vlaamse hervormingspraktijk

Het rapport is het sluitstuk van de eerste programmatieperiode van het SBV-project naar de organisatie van een wendbare- en klantgerichte overheid uitgevoerd tussen september 2016 en april 2018. Het rapport draagt bij aan de uitwerking van een (ver)nieuw(d) werkingsmodel voor de Vlaamse overheid.

Moving the governance of shared service centres (SSCs) forward: juxtaposing agency theory and stewardship theory

Shared Service Centers (SSCs) are popular arrangements for the delivery of support services. However, no-one has systematically analysed how conventional ideas on how to govern SSCs have been introduced in governments. This paper explores the governance of SSCs by juxtaposing agency and stewardship governance prescriptions, and by relating them to empirical examples. More research is needed on the conditions under which different governance methods work.

Hiving off the non-essential: analysing which public organizations outsource administrative overhead

This study contributes to our understanding of the characteristics of public organizations that are more likely to outsource administrative overhead. Despite the climate of ongoing crisis that urges public organizations to focus their resources on core tasks, little is known about the characteristics of organizations that hive off the delivery of non-essential administrative overhead processes to the private sector. This study runs a panel data Tobit model to test whether different effect sizes of structural, institutional and political characteristics are found regarding the probability of outsourcing and the degree of outsourcing of administrative overhead. We find that organizational size, formal autonomy, inertia and time matter for understanding the outsourcing of public organizations.

Verantwoording en aansturing : de spanning tussen vertrouwen en prestatiemetingen

Om haar cruciale rol in onze samenleving te kunnen vervullen, beschikt de politie over buitengewone bevoegdheden. Zo heeft ze het geweldsmonopolie, alsook het recht om binnen te treden in de persoonlijke levenssfeer van anderen. Daarom is het van groot belang dat het rechtmatig optreden van de politie zelf ook gehandhaafd wordt. Iedereen is het erover eens dat de politie verantwoording moet afleggen. Hoe dit dient te gebeuren is het onderwerp van discussie.

On the Dynamics of Reform Resistance: Why and How Bureaucratic Organizations Resist Shared Service Center Reforms

Across the globe, governments are engaging in Shared Service Center (SSC) models to rationalize their internal overhead processes. Scholarship is increasingly recognizing the challenges that governments face when embarking on an SSC reform. This study examines one of the most prevalent, yet undertheorized, risks: the role of resisting organizations that are pressured to engage in an SSC model. A context-sensitive and narrative approach is used to describe and explain the origins, nature, and consequences of organizational resistance against SSC reform proposals. Our findings demonstrate the interplay between organizational resistance, institutional features and contextual opportunities and constraints for resistance, the interaction of which produced a dynamic that dramatically affected the process and content of the reform under study.

On the Bureaucracy of Bureaucracies: Analysing the Size and Organization of Overhead in Public Organizations

Governments across the globe try to rebalance their budgets by rationalizing overhead operations. When overhead‐reducing policies are adopted, it is important to understand why some central government organizations have a higher overhead than others, and why organizational models to produce overhead efficiencies are used to different degrees. This study focuses on the Flemish context to analyse differences between central government organizations in the size and organization of two overhead processes: human resources management (HRM) and finance and control (FIN). Significant effects are found for autonomy, organizational size, spatial dispersion and budgetary stress, yet effects vary according to whether HRM or FIN is considered and whether the focus is on the size or the organization of HRM or FIN . Our findings have practical implications to get a process‐sensitive understanding of the size and organization of overhead, and theoretical implications as they cast light on factors that shape decision‐making in public organizations.

By Design or by Drift: How, Where, and Why HRM Activities Are Organized in the Public Sector

In the past decades, scholarship has recognized the potential of human resource management (HRM) to contribute to organizational performance in the public sector. Even so, the issue of how HRM activities are organized to achieve superior performance is still in largely unknown territory. De-centering and re-centering dynamics for the organization of HRM have been recognized, but insufficiently analyzed in terms of theoretical and analytical integration. This study investigates the specifics of how the public sector organizes a variety of HRM activities, including the questions of where and why. We find that a complementary use of a rational design perspective and a constraining drift perspective is crucial in order to fully understand the complexities of organizing HRM activities in the public sector. Public organizations generally intend to seek the most optimal arrangement but are sometimes constrained from doing so. Institutional constraints sometimes result in more optimal arrangements, but they can also lead to unintended side-effects. This calls for more research on how design and drift factors intertwine.

Welke organisatievormen voor de samenwerking tussen gemeente en OCMW op het vlak van ondersteunende diensten?

In dit artikel worden vanuit een bestuurskundige en juridische invalshoek de verschillende opties besproken voor gemeente- en OCMW-besturen die nadenken over een geschikte organisatievorm voor de samenwerking van hun ondersteunende diensten. Hierbij wordt geen ideaaltype voorgesteld. De keuze voor een geschikte organisatievorm is immers ‘maatwerk’, waarbij elk bestuur zorgvuldig de potentiële voordelen van een oplopende intensiteit en schaalgrootte moet afwegen tegen de mogelijke nadelen van een grotere (bestuurlijke) afstand ten opzichte van de gebruikers en de andere besturen. De factoren waarmee besturen rekening dienen te houden bij deze afweging worden in dit artikel behandeld.

On a Diet: Explaining Differences in Overhead among Public Agencies in the Era of Austerity

Reducing overhead is a target for governments across Europe that are looking for ways to economize. This study contributes to our understanding of overhead levels in different types of agencies. Regression and fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA) are applied to examine the relationship between an agency's overhead level and its formal autonomy, result control, size, and task. The results support the claim that greater formal autonomy leads to a higher overhead, especially when combined with performance-based target setting or when frequent monitoring is absent. The relationship, however, is nonlinear. Distinct effects for the different subdimensions of result control are found. Agency size and task mediate the relationship between formal autonomy, result control and overhead, but only in specific combinations.

How Organizational Reputation and Trust May Affect the Autonomy of Independent Regulators: The Case of the Flemish Energy Regulator

This chapter explores how an independent regulatory agency can develop a reputation for being a trustworthy actor and how this reputation and the corresponding trust from the political principal can affect the autonomy of the agency.

De doorwerking en effecten van besparingsmaatregelen in de Vlaamse administratie: enkele eerste beschrijvende en vergelijkende inzichten

De Vlaamse Regering voerde de afgelopen jaren geleidelijk een aantal besparingsmaatregelen in. Zo moest het personeelsbestand met 6 % verminderen en moest er 60 miljoen euro op de personeelsgerelateerde kredieten in de begrotingsjaren 2012-2014 worden bespaard. Speciale aandacht ging tevens naar het dossier ‘rationalisatie van de managementondersteunende functies (MOF)'. De Vlaamse overheid is niet de enige die haar uitgaven grondig bekijkt en deze terugschroeft. Vele Europese overheidsorganisaties zoeken naar maatregelen om de overheidsfinanciën in balans te brengen. Een groot deel van die maatregelen is gericht op de ‘operationele kosten van de overheid’, dat wil zeggen de apparaatskosten van het openbaar bestuur. In dit artikel richten we ons op dergelijke maatregelen en beschrijven we welke impact deze hebben op de administratie. Op basis van een Vlaamse survey en een internationale studie bekijken we welke maatregelen met betrekking tot bezuinigingen in de publieke sector doorgevoerd werden en vervolgens welke effecten deze maatregelen hadden op de werking van administraties. Speciale aandacht gaat hierbij uit naar het dossier ‘rationalisatie MOF’. We trekken verschillende conclusies. Vlaamse leidend ambtenaren rapporteren dat de meest gebruikte maatregelen lineair zijn en gerelateerd aan een wervingsstop en het verminderen van budgetten van bestaande beleidsprogramma's of uitstellen van nieuwe programma's. Door deze focus te leggen past de Vlaamse Regering in een rijtje Europese (veelal continentale) landen die soortgelijke maatregelen hebben genomen, in vergelijking met radicale en drastische maatregelen in voornamelijk Zuid- en Oost-Europese landen. Effecten van deze maatregelen zijn volgens de leidend ambtenaren niet enkel te vinden binnen de eigen organisatie, maar evenzeer op een overheidsbreed en organisatieoverschrijdend niveau. Zo vindt men dat de macht van het departement Financiën en Begroting is toegenomen, dat er meer wordt samengewerkt tussen entiteiten en dat het belang van prestatie-informatie is toegenomen. Ook hier past de Vlaamse situatie in een bredere Europese trend naar een verdere centralisatie van beslissingsmacht op het centrale niveau. De rationalisatie van managementondersteunende functies is in Vlaanderen doorheen de laatste jaren steeds sterker gekoppeld aan het besparingsprogramma, waarbij de Vlaamse Regering de druk op agentschappen en departementen verhoogde om hun interne managementondersteunende functies af te bouwen. Toch is de voornaamste reden om managementondersteuning uit te besteden aan een managementondersteunende dienst buiten de eigen organisatie niet zozeer de druk vanuit de Vlaamse Regering, maar het zich richten op de eigen kerntaken, volgens de bevraagde ambtenaren. Al met al kunnen we de doorwerking van budgettaire besparing in Vlaanderen relatief gematigd noemen en vergelijkbaar met onze West-Europese buurlanden.