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Managing Change in the Public Services




Managing Change in the Public Services

Mike Wallace (Editor), Michael Fertig (Editor), Eugene Schneller (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-405-13548-1 December 2006 Wiley-Blackwell 248 Pages


This book explores the management of change to improve public service effectiveness. It breaks new ground in addressing why public service change is becoming increasingly complex to manage, how people cope with this new complexity, what implications arise for improving policy and practice, and which avenues for further research and theory-building look particularly promising.

The contributors are all leading researchers from the USA, Canada and the UK. Together they provide a synthesis of state-of-the-art thinking on the complex change process in Anglo-American contexts, policy-making for public service reform that generates managerial complexity, and practice in service organizations to improve provision. Special reference is made to education and health: the largest and most complex of the public services. The analysis has wider relevance for other public services and national contexts.

Managing Change in the Public Services is essential reading for all concerned with public service improvement - leaders and managers in service organizations, administrators, trainers, advisers and consultants who support the management of change, policy-makers and public servants, and advanced course students and academics. The book also offers general insights for the theory and practice of managing organizational and systemic change.

List of Contributors.

Introduction: Managing Public Service Change or Coping with its Complexity?: Mike Wallace (University of Bath), Michael Fertig (University of Bath) and Eugene Schneller (Arizona State University).

Part I: Exploring the Complexity of the Change Process.

1. Coping with Complex and Programmatic Public Service Change: Mike Wallace (University of Bath).

2. Applying Complexity Theory to Public Service Change: Creating Chaos out of Order? Mike Wallace and Michael Fertig (University of Bath).

3. The Emergence of New Organizational Forms: Networks of Integrated Services in Health care: Lise Lamothe and Jean-Louis Denis (Université de Montréal).

4. An Ironic Perspective on Public Service Change: Mike Wallace (University of Bath) and Eric Hoyle (University of Bristol).

Part II: Exploring the Complexity of Policy-Making for Public Service Reform:.

5. Managing Complex Change: Bringing Meso-Politics Back in: Karen Seashore Louis (University of Minnesota).

6. The Challenges of Governance, Leadership and Accountability in the Public Services: Paul Thomas (University of Manitoba).

7. Inevitable Tensions in Managing Large-Scale Public Service Reform: Ben Levin (Ontario Ministry of Education).

Part III: Exploring the Complexity of Facilitating Public Service Improvement:.

8. Unsystematic Responses to a Chaotic Service Environment: Shaping the Division of Labour in Patient Care: Eugene Schneller (Arizona State University) and Mike Wallace (University of Bath).

9. How is Knowledge Transferred between Organizations Involved in Change? Jean Hartley (University of Warwick) and Lyndsay Rashman (University of Warwick).

10. Learning to Navigate the Noise of Change: Lessons from Complex Health System Contexts: Ann Casebeer (University of Calgary).

11. Orchestration, Coherence, and the Problem of Conflicting Accountabilities: William Firestone (Rutgers University) and Dorothy Shipps (Columbia University).

12. Prospects for Understanding and Improving Complex Public Service Change: Mike Wallace (University of Bath).


  • Provides a synthesis of state-of-the-art thinking on managing change to improve the effectiveness of public service provision.

  • Includes contributions from leading international researchers who offer an overview of the increasingly complex nature of contemporary public service change in different national contexts.

  • Reference is made to the fields of education and health, the two largest, most complex and highly professionalized public services.

  • Offers new thinking, supported by research evidence from different services and national contexts, on contemporary public service management.

  • Will inform the work of trainers, advisers, consultants and policy-makers who provide external support to assist with managing change in the public service, and discusses how to manage complex and programmatic change across public services.