Towards the next generation of public management: A study of management control and communication in the Swedish Armed Forces
2011 (English)In: International Journal of Public Sector Management, ISSN 0951-3558, E-ISSN 1758-6666, Vol. 24, no 2, 122-145 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Purpose – This paper aims to present an empirical case where fundamental changes in the environment have forced an organization to re‐evaluate its management control systems and possibly search for destabilizing supporting routines in order to unlearn the established ways of measuring and controlling within the organization. The problem, however, is that organizational technologies often work in the other direction, i.e. they promote stability in organizational routines. The paper seeks to increase understanding regarding the importance of destabilizing, or, as the authors like to call them, sensebreaking activities within organizations that are present in rapidly changing environments.
Design/methodology/approach – The authors used multiple sources and multiple techniques to collect data; interviews with managers, participation in meetings, and document analysis such as annual reports, pamphlets, speeches and Swedish Armed Forces's (SAF's) web site.
Findings – The study is clearly presented in a design‐oriented way. The benefits, however, are that it illustrates that the available models take for granted that the organization has a mission that is accepted. When the mission is debated, the focus and practice of management control falls into pieces. Also, when the ontology of the organization is debated, flexibility does not suffice. The proposition is that it is through sensebreaking that a reflective position may be held. That is, a position where everything may be questioned and that this questioning never stops.
Originality/value – The study of the SAF could probably be labeled a study of an extreme case. Extreme cases facilitate theory building because the dynamics being examined tend to be more visible than they might be in other contexts. The caveat, however, is that this particular case study risks becoming anecdotal since the SAF is, per definition, one of a kind. The paper's argument, however, is that the SAF acts as an illustration of the limits (and possibilities) of management control theory and how it is framed as a technology in a milieu that is neither relatively stable nor stable, but rather under extraordinary pressure for change.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 24, no 2, 122-145 p.
Control, Communication, Public sector organizations, Armed forces, Sweden, Change management
Research subject Business Administration
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-43046DOI: 10.1108/09513551111109035OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-43046DiVA: diva2:353231