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Understanding management innovation in the public sector : Path dependent and random decisions in accounting reforms

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abstract Public management reforms have been described as focused on internal change, inter alia. Changing control structures and management techniques can be labelled management innovation in the public sector. Many countries have gone through a process of management innovation, e.g. in the financial management system. Although goals and arguments of the reforms look alike, reforms differ regarding content and processes. We assume that such differences in management innovation between countries are results of a mixture of path dependencies and randomness in the reform process.
Reconstructing the accounting reform process in Switzerland, this paper detects both path dependent and random decisions. The article shows that the evolution of the federal accounting system has been path dependent up until the year 2000, resisting attempts to change from cash- to an accrual-based system. The roots for this path dependence have been detected in technology, sociological and organisational factors. When technology changes significantly, this is a conjunctural event that gives rise to relevant reconsiderations of the existing system. The empty concept of 'contingent initial situation' that is used in the new institutionalisms is filled with a decision model that allows for a certain degree of randomness, the Garbage Can Model. By this, we are able to explain the full process of management innovation within the case of Switzerland.
   
type conference paper (English)
   
keywords Path dependency, Garbage Can Model, Public Management, Reform
   
project Understanding management innovation in the public sector: path dependencies and contingencies of accounting reforms
name of conference EGOS Colloquium (Barcelona)
date of conference 3-7-2009
page(s) 24
publisher European Group for Organizational Studies
review external review
   
citation Summermatter, L., & Schedler, K. (2009). Understanding management innovation in the public sector: Path dependent and random decisions in accounting reforms. In , pp.24: European Group for Organizational Studies.