Kernaghan’s Bureaucratic/Post-bureaucratic Framework

… a core concept in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100

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Concept description

Kenneth Kernaghan (reference below, pdf on right) contrasted the characteristics of a traditional bureaucratic organization and those of newer post-bureaucratic organization in a framework that addressed culture, structure, and market orientation.

Kernaghan wrote:

“The bureaucratic/post-bureaucratic framework shown in [the figure below] reflects the broad scope of recent reform initiatives and proposals. It includes the major elements of NPM [New Public Management], but in view of the controversy over NPM’s meaning and scope, it avoids the frequent practice of equating NPM with public sector reform in general. … The primary means by which public organizations can move towards the post-bureaucratic model have become well known to the public administration community, especially over the past decade. They include partnerships, empowerment, restructuring, re-engineering, information technology and continuous learning.

“Many public organizations around the world have undergone significant reform by moving toward the post-bureaucratic model. The model is not a normative one in the sense that all public organizations are encouraged to conform as closely as possible to its several components. Nor is the model intended to serve as a new paradigm in the strict Kuhnian sense (Kuhn, 1970). Indeed, there is tension among some of the model’s components, e.g. the emphasis on coordination and collaboration versus the emphasis on decentralized authority and control. Moreover, an organization that uses the framework to analyse the current state of its structure, culture and management may decide, for sound reasons, to move towards the bureaucratic, rather than the post-bureaucratic, pole of certain continua. An organization may, for example, put relatively greater emphasis on accountability for process (i.e. for following the rules) after an embarrassing instance of unreasonable risk-taking. The framework is intended to serve (1) an analytical purpose by including the major elements of reform in public organizations; and (2) a practical purpose by helping public organizations assess where they stand in relation to recent reform proposals.”

Topic, subject and Atlas course

Modernizing Government in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100.

Source

Kenneth Kernaghan (2000), The Post-Bureaucratic Organization and Public Service Values, International Review of Administrative Sciences, 66, 91, at http://reut-institute.org/data/uploads/Articles%20and%20Reports%20from%20other%20organizations/public%20administration%20values.pdf, accessed 18 March 2017. The Kuhn reference is Kuhn, Thomas S. (1970) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd edn. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 18 March 2017.

Image: Kenneth Kernaghan (2000), The Post-Bureaucratic Organization and Public Service Values, International Review of Administrative Sciences, 66, 91, at http://reut-institute.org/data/uploads/Articles%20and%20Reports%20from%20other%20organizations/public%20administration%20values.pdf, accessed 18 March 2017.