Posts Categorised: Public Administration

It’s meaning making, stupid! Success of public leadership during flash crises



“Boin (2013) and others propose that public crisis leadership consists of several core tasks, among which crisis decision-making and meaning making stand out in “flash crises.” We however argue that successful leadership during a sudden crisis implies being visible and appealing to the public in need of hearing that the shattered world will be healed. When being visible and using the right rhetoric, public leaders are by and large automatically considered proficient crisis decision makers, that is “the right leader in the right place at the right time.”

Source: Helsloot, I., & Groenendaal, J. (2017). Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management and available from this link (subscription journal).

Wicked and less wicked problems: a typology and a contingency framework


Sunbaking/T. Fuller

“This paper addresses shortcomings in the scholarship about ‘wicked problems’, and suggests ways of tackling them. Firstly, accounts of these problems tend to ‘totalise’, regarding them as intractable masses of complexity, so conflict-prone and/or intractable that they defy definition and solution. By contrast, we put forward a more nuanced analysis, arguing that complex problems vary in the extent of their wickedness, via such dimensions as their cognitive complexity or the diversity and irreconcilability of the actors or institutions involved. We propose a typology of different forms of wicked problems.”

Source: Alford, J., & Head, B. W. (2017). Policy and Society, and available from this link (open access).

Structural Changes to the Public Sector and Cultural Incompatibility: The Consequences of Inadequate Cultural Integration

QEII in Sydney Harbour/E.Grimm

“In this paper, we explore the cultural issues associated with a structural change in the Australian Public Service. We argue that cultural differences across merged functions were disruptive and challenging to overcome. We posit, however, that these challenges were exacerbated by the lack of systemic effort to integrate cultures, thus impeding synergy realization. Our findings are consistent with the private sector literature that warns mergers and acquisitions undertaken with too much haste and without adequate planning can lead to cultural issues when not managed appropriately.”

Source: Buick, F., Carey, G., & Pescud, M. (2017). Australian Journal of Public Administration, and available from this link (subscription journal).

Preventing Dysfunction and Improving Policy Advice: The Role of Intra-Departmental Boundary Spanners



“It is well established in the public management literature that boundary spanners – people or groups that work across departments or sectors – are critical to the success of whole of government and joined-up working. In studying recent unprecedented change to central government agencies in the Australian context, our research identified that intra-departmental boundary spanners also play a critical role in the functioning of government departments, particularly during restructuring.”

Source: Carey, G., Buick, F., Pescud, M., & Malbon, E. (2017). Australian Journal of Public Administration, 76(2), and available from this link (subscription journal).

Emotional capacity in the public sector – an Australian review



“This paper presents a review examining an Australian public sector competency framework through the lens of emotional intelligence (EQ) to answer the question “To what extent is the concept of EQ used to facilitate NSW public sector reform?” The purpose of this paper is to accentuate the importance of emotional capacity as an important capability to achieve reform goals, recognising the public sector’s deep organisational history and accepting that change is an emotional event, and that people achieve change.”

Source: Charmaine Belfanti, (2017).  International Journal of Public Sector Management,  30/5, and available from this link (open access).

Gender diversity from the top: the trickle-down effect in the Australian public sector

Manly at dusk/Flickr

“Organisational strategies to achieve gender diversity have tended to focus on ‘bottom-up’ approaches such as mentoring or leadership training. We investigate an alternative ‘top-down’ approach: the trickle-down effect. We integrate theories from the psychology and management literatures to hypothesise a positive relationship between female representation at two levels. Data from 20 departments in an Australian public service were collected for the period 2002–2012.”

Source: Gould, J. A., Kulik, C. T., & Sardeshmukh, S. R. (2017). Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources and available from this link (subscription journal).

Fostering Innovation in the Public Sector


“Public sector innovation does not happen by itself: problems need to be identified, and ideas translated into projects that can be tested, implemented and shared. To do so, public sector organisations must identify the processes and structures that can support and accelerate innovation. This report looks at how governments can create an environment that fosters innovation.”

Source: OECD (2017). Available from this link (open access).

Whole of Government: the Solution to Managing Crises?

Kangaroo Paw/PaperMonkey

“The frequency and severity of natural disasters has placed a clear emphasis on the role of governments in responding to these crises. During the past decade, disaster events have had a significant impact on the relevant communities as well as raising questions regarding the role of government and the bureaucratic coordination of planning and response processes. These events have placed a renewed focus on the ability of governments to plan, prepare, and respond in an effective way to crises. They have also tended to indicate that there remain serious challenges to government coordination and that crises create a unique series of challenges for the public sector.”

Source: Carayannopoulos, G. (2017). Australian Journal of Public Administration, 76(2), and available from this link (subscription journal).

Assessment of the Consolidation of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP)


Native correa/PaperMonkey

“The integration of the DIBP reflects an important inflection point in the history of customs, immigration, and border-management activities within the government of Australia. The degree to which this reform achieves its goals largely rests on the ability of the leadership to keep up the momentum, bring the workforce along, and ensure that the necessary capacities that have been built are able to survive.”

Source: Gerstein, D., Edwards, K., Woods, D., Newell, J., & Moroney, J. (2016). RAND Corporation and available from this link (open access).

How the public sector can remain agile beyond times of crisis

Storm from North Head/Flickr

“This paper will examine what makes public-sector organizations agile in extremely challenging times and what mostly prevents them from remaining agile otherwise. We will also describe techniques of organizational agility that could help large agencies and departments get moving as quickly as today’s fluid conditions require—and how to apply them with an understanding of the public sector’s unique context and responsibilities.”

Source: Rieckhoff, K., and Maxwell, J. (2017). McKinsey Quarterly and avaialble from this link (open access).