Balancing Stability and Change in the New Weberian State
AbstractAttempts at modernization typically include change. We argue that, in a long term perspective, these change attempts tend to be balanced with reforms or measures aiming at stability. Many of the measures that are taken today, after years of New Public Management (NPM) reforms, aim at securing continuity and quality within the existing structures, meaning a public administration characterized by stability and continuity. This quest for stability serves as a cornerstone in the New Weberian State (NWS), connecting back to the classic bureaucratic values which have been more or less put aside during the past decades. In this article, we argue that stability is the new “modernity” in the public sector, thus pushing us away from the changes connected to the NPM ideas. This also includes a shift from output-related aspects to aspects concerning input and process. Three factors aiming to secure stability in public organisations are highlighted: Recruitment (input), standardization of work (formal process), and public sector values (informal process). These mechanisms are today increasingly being used to consolidate previous changes and achieve stability in the public administration.