Organizational Politics and Innovation in the Federal Reinvention Laboratories

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Administration


Patricia Ingraham


Public administration, Labor relations, Organizational change, Politics, Studies

Subject Categories

Public Administration


This research explores the internal political dynamics that accompany attempts at organizational change in the public sector. The subjects of study were a sample of "reinvention laboratories" established as part of the National Performance Review. The labs entailed a series of attempts to introduce organizational innovations in federal agencies. Of interest was whether organizational politics is a central feature of change processes in large bureaucracies and to what extent it is an obstacle to the implementation of change. The study takes a "micro-level" perspective with attention directed to the actions of individual organizational actors to either induce or impede change. Two approaches were used to analyze the data generated from interviews with organizational personnel. An inductive approach utilizing grounded theory techniques identified the following as affecting the outcomes of change processes; the prominent role of leadership in engendering change, the relevance of the bases of power available to different organizational actors to change outcomes and the tactical nature of change. A deductive approach was employed for the purpose of examining the relevance of different innovation and organizational attributes to both the presence or absence of political behavior and to change outcomes. The results of both approaches are integrated into a "dyadic" model of change which contrasts in a number of ways with more conventional open systems models.


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