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When civil servants meet consultants: Convergence or conversion in the representations of change?

Abraham, Kavita Rachel (2008) When civil servants meet consultants: Convergence or conversion in the representations of change? PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Public Sector Reform has been on the agenda of governments in United Kingdom for many decades. New Public Management is the most recent thinking that is driving the changes in Public Administration since the 1980s. This thesis explores the social psychology of an encounter of Civil Servants and the Consultants, engaged by the government in the late 1990s. This encounter between two fundamentally different groups, that is, the institution of the British Civil Service and the community of practice of the management consultants, resulted in a culture clash of ethos, languages, rites and rituals, perceptions of change, and actions. This is a crucial moment to capture the experience of change and the consequences of these representations in the process. This thesis tracks the social representations of change and the acts of representing the change over a nine-month period. Over 800 staff members from both groups worked intensively together, impacting over 10,000 employees, and documenting this change period. Drawing on a social psychological theory of representations, this thesis looks at these processes both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Representations are analysed using co-occurrence analysis on the languages used in the documentation about the change (using ALCESTE software). The results of this study looks at the implications of this 'arranged marriage' between two different cultures being put together by a third party, in this case, the government. The study presents evidence of convergence and conversion of representations over time, and offers putative conditions for one or the other to occur. The recommendations made for Private Sector change models to work towards convergence rather than conversion.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Psychology, Social, Political Science, General, Sociology, Public and Social Welfare
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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