Reference : Identity dynamics in post‐NPM administration: A subtle two‐step between contents and ...
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Paper published in a book
Business & economic sciences : General management & organizational theory
Identity dynamics in post‐NPM administration: A subtle two‐step between contents and context.
[fr] Dynamiques identitaires dans une administration post-NPM: un subtil pas de deux entre contenu et contexte.
Rondeaux, Giseline mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > HEC-Ecole de gestion > LENTIC > >]
Pichault, François mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > HEC-Ecole de gestion : UER > Gestion des ressources humaines >]
Proceedings of the 23rd EGOS Conference: "Beyond Waltz - Dances of Individuals and Organization"
23rd EGOS Conference: "Beyond Waltz - Dances of Individuals and Organization"
[en] Public administration ; New Public Management ; Organizational Identities
[en] Due to the current need for modernization, many public administrations are faced with a series of reform processes, under various forms and concerning several aspects of the administration.
One can reasonably suppose that these upheavals have effects on civil servants, on their relationship with the organisation and on the way they see it. Within such a large issue, our main concern is to question the existence of links between a major planned change within an administration (such as a NPM reform) and its organizational identities. Three positions can be tested:
• the impact: public reforms involve the transformation of identities;
• the independence: identities persist, whatever the reforms may be;
• and finally, co-structuring: reforms partly modify identities, but the latter also shape the reforms process.

The position we are adopting in this paper tends to fit into this third approach, resulting from empirical data collected within a Belgian Ministry: the introduction of an NPM reform leads to a hybridization of identity logics within a public administration, but in other respects, the reform process can eventually be influenced by the identity logics.

Using a qualitative analysis of our empirical material, we first distinguished 6 identity profiles, characterised by their reference to an identity logic (public service, public managerialism or pragmatism) and their perception of the context (congruence or dissonance).

This identity profile concept can be defined as the enactment of the context according to each logic. In other words, the confrontation of the identity logic with the perception of the context can lead to either a situation of congruence (in which the perception of the context appears to be in continuity with the identity logic) or a situation of dissonance (in which there is a break between the perception of the context and the identity logic). The position towards the context, leading to either congruence or dissonance, depends on both individual and group factors.

In order to give these profiles a longitudinal dimension and to propose an analysis of identity dynamics in a temporal perspective, we then conducted a second set of interviews 12 to 18 months later, with the same sample of people we had met before. In this way, we can explain how identity profiles evolve over time. A concomitant analysis of the administration context and the identity changes allows us to reveal the links between identities and the continuous change context into which they fit.

Through our case study, our hypothesis of organizational identities and reform process co-structuring appears to be valid, as shown by the hybridization of identity logics within the administration we studied. Our results allow us to assume a modification of identity points of reference following a reform, as well as a reinterpretation of this reform through the identity filter. Our longitudinal approach reveals the identity dynamics, by identifying notably the shift processes from one position to another, and leads us to propose a model of contextualized identity dynamics.
From our data, we are also able to show which factors produce (or are likely to produce) identity shifts. These evolution factors are the situational events which, when they occur, entail an evolution in the perception of the context perception of either congruence or dissonance), and can lead to a transition from one identity profile to another.
We also consider the frame of mind of each identity profile towards change (1) as it is actually experienced and (2) in a projective way, as it would be experienced in future (i.e. the dimensions people wish to be changed, and those they fear being changed).
Such information results in several lessons for managerial consideration: it can be used as a basis to extract precious indicators for change management – on the content of change as well as how it is conducted. These observations can also be used to identify the change potential of an organisation, in the design of change management strategies, and particularly in terms of communication policies.
Laboratoire d'Etudes sur les Nouvelles Technologies de l'Information, la Communication, l'Innovation et le Changement - LENTIC
Researchers ; Professionals ; Students

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