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Managing Administrative Reform through Language Work. Implementing Lean in Swedish Public Sector Organisations
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE). Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
2015 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration, ISSN 2001-7405, E-ISSN 2001-7413, Vol. 19, no 2, 89-108 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The paper accounts for the early implementation of Lean in two Swedish public sector organisations justifying Lean as a remedy for the negative consequences of New Public Management (NPM). But is Lean radically different, or rather yet another NPM reform? We use a social constructivist approach and focus on the role of language in influencing employees’ minds and subjective perceptions, and thereby mobilising new patterns of governance. The concept of ‘language work’, comprising three organisational levels, is suggested for analysing the meaning and consequences of the Lean efforts studied. The analysis reveals that the first level of Lean language work largely mirrors typical NPM ideals, including entrepreneurship, empowerment and customer orientation. In contrast, there are more salient differences at the second level about labels used for organisational classifications having both empowering and disempowering effects on categorised people. At the third level of analysis targeting the day-to-day practice, we see a return of NPM performance measurement–oriented practices and their (often-unintended) consequences discussed in research on NPM reforms, although they surface in somewhat new ways, including communicative symbols and other linguistic expressions. The main contribution lies in the conceptualisation of language work widening the scope of the constitutive role of language to include the levels of political programmes and technologies of government as well as organisational classifications.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 19, no 2, 89-108 p.
Keyword [en]
Administrative reform, Language work, Semantic clusters, Lean Organisation, Governance
National Category
Business Administration Public Administration Studies Social Anthropology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-123991OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-123991DiVA: diva2:879092
Funder
Riksbankens Jubileumsfond
Available from: 2015-12-09 Created: 2015-12-09 Last updated: 2017-01-04Bibliographically approved

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Tamm Hallström, KristinaThedvall, Renita
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CiteExportLink to record
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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
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  • asciidoc
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