EGOS Frontpage  European Group for Organizational Studies
About EGOS | Join | Organization Studies | Conferences | Working Groups | PhD & Postdoc. Information | Job Market | Members
The 23rd EGOS Colloquium 2007  

General Theme


Postdoctoral pre-colloquium workshop

PhD pre-colloquium workshop

Roland Calori Prize

EGOS Best Paper Award
EGOS Best Student Paper Award

Colloquium program

Sub-theme programs

Panel discussions


Organizational details

Registration and hotel reservation


City maps



Sub-theme 35:
Doing the ‘two-step’: New forms of organizing and professional identity in post-NPM organizations



Neil Paulsen, University of Queensland/ Brisbane (Australia)

Bas Koene, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (Netherlands)

Ola Bergström, Göteborg University (Sweden)


Call for papers

The relationship between individuals and organizations (RIO) in the post New Public Management (post-NPM) era is an ongoing project. Over the last decades, many OECD countries have instituted major reform of the public sector, which in turn has impacted on both the private and non-profit sectors. Fuelled by concepts such as ‘reinventing government’ (Osbourne & Gaebler, 1992), New Public Management (Kettl, 1997), and/or ‘responsive governance’ (United Nations, 2005), governments have adopted various initiatives designed to reform and rejuvenate the delivery of public services. Consequently, new forms of organizing blur the boundaries between jurisdictions (e.g., public-private partnerships), which in turn lead to different ways of working in the delivery of public and community services. Furthermore, the tension between enhanced organizational performance (with societal accountability, legitimacy and identity as important characteristics in the field of public organizations) and the room for discretionary human agency (with individual responsibility, autonomy and initiative as the engines of NPM), has been at the heart of the NPM debate, exposing the paradoxes and tensions of RIO, possibly more than in any other organized context. As organizations move toward a post-NPM era, the legacy of these initiatives has significant implications for both the professional identities of employees in their organizations, and the role they play in influencing their outcomes (Paulsen, 2006). This subtheme explores these new ‘dance’ forms and their implications for RIO.

The intentional acts of organizing in post-NPM organizations set boundaries within which people act out or ‘dance’ their organizational responsibilities and at the same time, enact their organizational identities. As new forms of organizing emerge, existing boundaries become problematic in defining and redefining professional identities and in specifying appropriate or sanctioned forms of employee influence. In this context, the relationships between the individual and the collective, between ‘old’ and ‘new’ value orientations, and between organizations and the community, are substantially altered. Employees in the post-NPM era dance a delicate ‘two-step’ between the logic of service and the logic of accountability (Hernes, 2005). Dancing the two-step involves employees in actively influencing the balance between service delivery and financial accountability, between autonomy and control, and between performance measurement and the achievement of meaningful client outcomes, all of this while consistently balancing individual initiative with preset organizational goals that legitimate their existence. Therefore, it might be instructive to focus on factors that cause employees to question each other, that question their identity and purpose, and that curtail or enable their ability to act and influence outcomes.

In this stream, we invite papers that explore RIO in those organizations that continue to experience the legacy of NPM reforms. As boundaries between jurisdictions are set and reset, constructed and reconstructed, they serve as the symbolic markers of organizational identities and help to define new ways of ‘being’ for the individuals who inhabit these organizations. We aim to spark a creative inquiry into the experiences of organizational life where managers and those being managed engage in processes of organizational change and development, including new forms of organizing for the delivery of human services.

To this end, transdisciplinary approaches and novel research strategies are particularly encouraged. Papers in this subtheme might explore questions such as:

  • What is the influence of broader societal changes on RIO in the context of organizational development and change in the post-NPM era?

  • What new organizational forms are being created and what are the new discourses and practices of organization in the post-NPM era?

  • What conditions influence forms of the ‘two-step’ in partnerships, mergers, and/or strategic alliances designed to deliver human services?

  • Does the blurring of jurisdictional boundaries in the post-NPM era challenge core organizational values and professional identities?

  • In what ways do individuals contribute to fundamental organizational change? How does this influence the outcome of the change process, and how do these change processes affect RIO?

  • From a perspective of institutional entrepreneurship, how do people change or influence the context in which they operate? By what 'set of rules' do they act and what does this mean for the outcomes of their influencing activities?

  • Does RIO evolve in different ways for various groups of organization members?

  • How does the RIO evolve for individuals driving the process of organizational change and how does it evolve for those that are the ‘subjects of change’?

  • How is RIO related to the inclination to actively engage in processes of change? Do people who experience a strong relationship or identification with the organization also engage actively in a process of organizational change, or does a change situation present new opportunities for organizational mavericks to renew their engagement with the organization?

  • What is the role of boundary spanners and ‘deviant’ players in influencing emerging forms of organizing and professional identity?

  • How can the organization effectively engage individual organization members in the renewal of the central impulse driving the organization?

About the convenors

Neil Paulsen is a Senior Lecturer in the University of Queensland Business School, Australia. His research includes intergroup perspectives on organizational communication, organizational behavior, change management, community engagement strategies, and innovation in teams. He has published an edited book (with Tor Hernes) and a number of book chapters and articles on organizational boundaries, organizational change, communication, employee uncertainty, and identity.

Bas Koene is Assistant Professor, Department of Organization and Personnel Management, Rotterdam School of Management. His research interests are in the area of organization design, human and organization development, and the role of individuals in processes of organizational development and change. He has published articles on leadership and organizational culture, accounting evaluation style effectiveness, flexibilization of employment, institutional change, and human agency in processes of institutionalization renewal.

Ola Bergström is Assistant Professor at the Department of Business Administration at the School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Göteborg, Sweden. His research interests include changes in labor markets, institutionalization, forms of control, organizational discourse, agency and discipline. His work on these issues (e.g., on contingent employment, discourse and subjectivity) has been published in a number of recent books and articles in refereed journals.