Unleashing Change / Edition 1

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This is a hopeful account of the potential for organizational change and improvement within government. Despite the mantra that "people resist change," it is possible to effect meaningful reform in a large bureaucracy. In Unleashing Change, public management expert Steven Kelman presents a blueprint for accomplishing such improvements, based on his experience orchestrating procurement reform in the 1990s.

Kelman's focuses on making change happen on the front lines, not just getting it announced by senior policymakers. He argues that frequently there will be a constituency for change within government organizations. The role for leaders is not to force change on the unwilling but to unleash the willing, and to persist long enough for the change to become institutionalized.

Drawing on the author's own personal experience and extensive research among frontline civil servants, as well as literature in organization theory and psychology, Un leashing Change presents an approach for improving agency performance from soup to nuts —mixing theory with practice. Its analysis is innovative and empirically rich. Kelman's conclusions challenge conventional notions about achieving reform in large organizations and mark a major advance in theories of organizational change. His lessons will be of interest not only to scholars interested in improving the performance of the public sector, but for anyone struggling to manage a large organization.

"Steve Kelman's creative research, augmented by his own considerable experience as a reform-minded federal official, gives this book unusual depth and authenticity." —Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School, author of Con fidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This is an extraordinary book that might cause a 'mental revolution' in any public administration scholar who reads it....Steve Kelman masterfully engages the reader in a provocative intellectual dialogue that reaches out to the postbureaucratic world." —Vadym V. Pyrozhenko, Syracuse University, Public Administration Review

Academy of Management Review
"Kelman’s study of a large-scale reform effort on the front lines of government provides an unusually rich and complex look at how change occurs. This book will be useful to both academics and practitioners/policy makers. . . . [It] reminds us what social science is all about. Organization and management theory could use more studies like this."
July 2006
Administrative Science Quarterly
"There can be little doubt that this is a clever and interesting book. Its conceptual and methodological sophistication carry it well above most run-of-the-mill public administration texts and, equally, above many books on change management. . . . It is an accomplished work by a leading public management academic. A satisfying analysis of a particular episode, it is also full of stimulating ideas that can be carried further in other contexts."
June 2006
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815748991
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
  • Publication date: 6/9/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 990,827
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven Kelman is the Weatherhead Professor of Public Management at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. From 1993 to 1997 he administered the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, where he was a leading figure in "reinventing government" efforts. His previous books include Procurement and Public Management: The Fear of Discretion and the Quality of Government Performance and Making Public Policy: A Hopeful View of American Government.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
1 Introduction: Organizational Change and Improving the Performance of Government 1
2 The Traditional Procurement System and the Difficulties of Change 10
Part 1 Initiating Change
3 Discontent on the Front Lines 39
4 Joining the Reform Coalition 59
5 Changes at the Top and the Unleashing of Reform 82
6 Initiating Change: Implications for Theory and Practice 96
Part 2 Consolidating Change
7 How a Change Effort Feeds on Itself: Theory 111
8 How a Change Effort Feeds on Itself: Evidence 135
9 From Attitude to Behavior 160
10 "Deepening" and Organizational Change 179
11 Consolidating Change: Implications for Theory and Practice 20
A Specifying Models and Determinants 215
B Methodological Considerations Involved in Using Only One Case 232
Notes 237
Index 297
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2005

    Must-read for change leaders

    This is a must-read for anyone trying to lead change in a bureaucracy, whether government, business, non-profit, military, or education. Kelman's insights into why change is difficult, and his idea of unleashing change vs coercing it, are brilliant, down-to-earth, and totally practical. The change Kelman led resulted in the federal government substituting a new informal rule ('Get a good deal for the government.') for thousands of pages of rules and specifications that made buying t-shirts and ketchup just like buying software systems and fighter planes. His special magic was to enlist the front-line buyers who knew how messed-up the system was. He gives them credit for the change they played a central role in effecting. His only sin is excessive modesty about his own role in a revolutionary and successful change effort.

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