Personnel resistance in public sector reform

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceeding


Observations from three case studies of public sector reforms are reported. These observations concern managerial attitudes to personnel resistance, and they reveal how management talks of resistance either as an emotional reaction or as a personality trait with certain employees. Based on these assumptions it is considered legitimate to disregard employee objections. Personnel were invited to the managerial decision making process, but this functioned rather as therapy than as a channel for actual employee influence. Findings are problematic, because they challenge the ethics of the public official in modern democracies and hinder attempts at whistle-blowing. A framework distinguishing between four interpretations of resistance and corresponding decision making strategies is suggested. The framework can be used to understand and discuss different interpretations of resistance and choices pertaining to employee influence in the decision making process. It also highlights important differences as concerns how resistance tends to be understood in change management theory, as compared to how it must be understood in order to allow whistle-blowing in public sector reform.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economics and Business


  • decision making, whistle-blowing, reform, resistance, public management, ethics
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch
EventThe International Research Society for Public Management (IRSPM) 2010 - Dublin, Berne, Switzerland
Duration: 2010 Apr 72010 Apr 9
Conference number: 14


ConferenceThe International Research Society for Public Management (IRSPM) 2010

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