Intermediacy between political control and institutional autonomy : a transformative approach
Mabila, Ndiphethe Olive
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Copyright: 2015. Virtus Interpress. Due to copyright restrictions, only the abstract is available. For access to the full text item, please consult the publisher's website. The definitive version of the work is published in Journal of Governance and Regulation. Vol. 4. Issue 3 . pp 72-78.
The public sector is about providing services, managing resources efficiently and securing a return on investment. Producing results and managing performance depends on adaptation, flexibility and creativity. While one may argue for greater control to achieve performance indicators, this has to be underpinned by managerial control systems both internally and externally. Post NPM reforms have tried to respond to the problem of single purpose organisations that have distanced political control. While post NPM reforms tipped the scale toward more political control, it did not restore the balance between control and autonomy. In view of the NPM and post NPM reforms and the accompanying challenges, the paper argues that it is not possible to device a “one size fits all” response to these challenges. In trying to analyse the dilemma of balancing political control and institutional autonomy an institutional theoretical perspective is used by analysing structural and instrumental features (national political environment), cultural features (historical administrative traditions) and external constraints (technical and institutional environments). It needs to be recognised that the aforementioned features have constraints. The structural and instrumental features specify the formal constraints on leaderships decisions. These constraints may give political leaders strong hierarchical control or may not give them much direction, but a lot of potential discretionary influence. The cultural features specify that public organisations develop informal norms and values which lead to a distinct institutional culture. While these informal norms and values are infused in formal structures and decision making, it may be inconsistent with the sub-culture, thereby giving it less systemic influence. The technical and institutional environment which focuses on efficiency production and internal culture may develop beliefs over time that cannot be ignored. Christensen (2008:13) refers to this as the There Is No Alternative principle which has a deterministic potential. While recognising these constraints, the adoption of an institutional perspective provides a more holistic approach to creating synergy between the political and bureaucratic environments.
Dorasamy, N. and Mabila, N.O. 2015. Intermediacy between political control and institutional autonomy : a transformative approach. Journal of governance and Regulation. 4(3). 72-78.