Rhetoric, organizational category dynamics and institutional change : a study of the UK Welfare State

COULE, Tracey, M. and BENNETT, Ellen (2016). Rhetoric, organizational category dynamics and institutional change : a study of the UK Welfare State. Public Administration, 94 (4), 1059-1076.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.1111/padm.12274


Accounts of institutional change and categorization conventionally assume that high-status change agents can impose change, even to stable category systems, which lower-status actors accommodate in order to ensure social approval and material resources. By exploring the UK Conservative-Liberal Coalition's rhetorical efforts to reform the welfare state, how welfare providers are categorized and the subsequent response of implicated category members, we offer instead an account of institutional change that exposes the agentic limitations of high-status actors. Whilst governments may well be in a position to impose changes in the formal rules of the game through manipulation of material resources (fiscal contraction, privatization, open markets, deregulation), we find that they cannot necessarily monopolize symbolic resources (identities/cultural features). We also find that deviation from cultural expectations is not only available to large, high-status organizations, low-status actors too have discretion over their responses to institutional pressures regarding how they are categorized and subsequently judged.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research
Sheffield Business School Research Institute > People, Work and Organisation
Departments: Sheffield Business School > Department of Management
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1111/padm.12274
Depositing User: Tracey Coule
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2016 13:09
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2018 14:10
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/12597

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