The transformation of bureaucracy? Structural change in the Commonwealth public service 1983-93

Stewart, Jenny & Kimber, Megan (1996) The transformation of bureaucracy? Structural change in the Commonwealth public service 1983-93. Australian Journal of Public Administration, 55(3), pp. 37-48.

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Commentators have predicted bureaucratic organisations would undergo substantial change as a result of social and economic pressures. We ask whether reforms to the Australian public service over the 1983–93 period exemplify this process.

We use the methods of organisational analysis to characterise the direction of change, basing our assessment on the standard structural variables of complexity, formalisation and centralisation, together with a cultural variable. We find evidence that, overall, departments of state in the APS were becoming less bureaucratic in their structure, culture and internal function in the 1983–93 period. However, the effect was not uniform across departments, or unambiguous — formalisation, for example, increased in some respects and decreased in others. Centralisation increased overall, despite devolution of some decision-making.

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4 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 73917
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Organisation theory, Commonwealth Public Service, Departmental annual reports, Public service reform, Managerialism
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8500.1996.tb01221.x
ISSN: 1467-8500
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > POLICY AND ADMINISTRATION (160500)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 1996 John Wiley & Sons Inc
Deposited On: 29 Jul 2014 22:31
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2014 10:13

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