Managing the new organization: some problems of institutional transition—a New Zealand perspective

Date01 February 1997
Published date01 February 1997
Managing the new organization: some problems of
institutional transitionÐa New Zealand perspective
Education Review Of®ce, New Zealand
The article presents a policy-maker's view of one of the most radical and most-consistently
sustained policy and institutional reforms. It begins by reviewing factors affecting the nature
and tempo of New Zealand's reform initiatives, including `woodenheadedness', the political
capacity to deliver sustained economic change, the failure of universities and other centres of
research and scholarship to generate new ideas; the resistance of entrenched systems; the
signi®cance of generating a popular conceptual framework for reform in a literate, articulate
society. Issues that are relevant in implementing policy initiatives include: the scarcity of
competent managers, particularly associated with the country's small scale; the impact
of geography and technology; timing and queuing; loss of institutional memory; the power of
communication to fail; and the persistence of ideological, professional ways of thinking,
backed by the power of unions and professional associations.
This article surveys essential concepts and elements of New Zealand's state sector reforms,
focusing on: the guiding philosophyÐtransparency and consistency; operating principlesÐthe
distinction between outputs and outcomes, purchaser and provider, government and
departments; the principal instrumentsÐpurchase agreements between ministers and chief
executives, delegation, performance measures. (&1997 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.)
Over the past ten years or so, New Zealand managers have worked in an
environment with very clear features.
.First, in 1984 New Zealand became, and has remained, a country bent on radical
The culture of reform, of deliberate, determined and continuous change has been a
dynamic feature of life in New Zealand for over a decade. Change has not crept up
on us, large sectors of society are not asleep, dreaming, happily undisturbed by
external changes, and stamina has been a hallmark of the successful. Whether
exhausted by continuous change or not, all citizens have been actively aware that for
good or bad, nothing is as it was for the previous generation.
CCC 0271±2075/97/010041±08$17.50
&1997 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Dr Aitken is Chief Review Of®cer, Education Review Of®ce, PO Box 2799, Wellington, New Zealand

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