Brunetta Baldi Rosalba Chiarini

Organization theory and public administration. The reforms of the relationship between politics and administration

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The intense season of administrative reforms that began in Italy in the 1990s has opened up new spaces for the organizational analysis of public administrations, but so far legal studies, in line with the Italian tradition of administrative studies, and business studies, in tune with the New Public Management approach, have prevailed. This article aims to illustrate the potential of applying a political model of organizational analysis to the study of administrative reforms, focusing on those of public management, which are briefly examined. Such a model concentrates on power resources in the relationship between politics and administration, enabling for a new dialogue between organization theory and political science. Furthermore, it does not neglect the role that public managers can assume in the external dimension of public administration as most legal and business studies do. The adoption of a political model of organizational analysis makes it possible to reconstruct the actual power dynamics that develop in the relationship between public managers and political bodies as main actors of public decision-making. In this perspective, it allows for assessing the extent of change produced by the reforms, which have modified the distribution of power resources between these two actors, thus overcoming the limits of a purely legal or business approach to the study of public management.


  • Public management
  • Administrative reforms
  • Organization theory
  • Resources of power
  • Italy


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