Abstract Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to analyze the trajectory of an institutional change in a public organisation, this study explores the role of organisational mediators – i.e. middle managers involved in the enactment of change projects - to translate leaders’ entrepreneurial attempts of modernisation. Design/methodology/approach – Enlightened by an institutional perspective, the research is carried out through a single case study in a major Italian Court House. The empirical evidence relies on various sources of information: archival data, documentation, observation and 42 face-to-face interviews. Findings – The research outlines the heterogeneity of mediators’ approaches and the diverse effectiveness in translating leaders’ ideas. Three approaches are evidenced: instrumental leaderdriven, conformant leader-driven, rhetorical individual-driven. These archtypes are compared in term of characteristics and contribution to mediate the symbolic realm of new ideas and the technical realm of everyday working activities. Practical implications – The identification of the importance and characteristics of organisational mediators provide insights for leaders in choosing the most appropriate figures to carry out change projects. Originality/value – This paper highlights the importance of more operational figures (mediators), and their characteristics, in pursuing change in the public sector. Mediators become essential organisational translators to bridge the gap between strategic leaders ideas and employees working reality. Keywords Mediators, Institutional change, Public sector organizations, Middle managers, Leadership, Italy Paper type Case study

Leading change in public organisations: the role of mediators

AGOSTINO, DEBORAH;ARENA, MARIKA;ARNABOLDI, MICHELA
2013-01-01

Abstract

Abstract Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to analyze the trajectory of an institutional change in a public organisation, this study explores the role of organisational mediators – i.e. middle managers involved in the enactment of change projects - to translate leaders’ entrepreneurial attempts of modernisation. Design/methodology/approach – Enlightened by an institutional perspective, the research is carried out through a single case study in a major Italian Court House. The empirical evidence relies on various sources of information: archival data, documentation, observation and 42 face-to-face interviews. Findings – The research outlines the heterogeneity of mediators’ approaches and the diverse effectiveness in translating leaders’ ideas. Three approaches are evidenced: instrumental leaderdriven, conformant leader-driven, rhetorical individual-driven. These archtypes are compared in term of characteristics and contribution to mediate the symbolic realm of new ideas and the technical realm of everyday working activities. Practical implications – The identification of the importance and characteristics of organisational mediators provide insights for leaders in choosing the most appropriate figures to carry out change projects. Originality/value – This paper highlights the importance of more operational figures (mediators), and their characteristics, in pursuing change in the public sector. Mediators become essential organisational translators to bridge the gap between strategic leaders ideas and employees working reality. Keywords Mediators, Institutional change, Public sector organizations, Middle managers, Leadership, Italy Paper type Case study
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11311/857934
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