Strategic Management in Public Organizations: Profiling the Public Entrepreneur as Strategist

Ongaro, Edoardo and Ferlie, Ewan (2020). Strategic Management in Public Organizations: Profiling the Public Entrepreneur as Strategist. The American Review of Public Administration (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0275074020909514

Abstract

Our core argument is that the entrepreneurial school of thought in strategic management as conceptualized by Mintzberg and colleagues holds explanatory value for advancing knowledge about the behavior of public sector organizations, as it does for private firms, albeit with important qualifications when applied to public services: chiefly, the temporal limitation in post for the office-holder of a public organization. After describing our methods, we present qualitative data from a longitudinal case study of strategy making in an European Union (EU) agency, the European Aviation Safety Agency, which has become a key actor globally in civil aviation. Our interpretation of the case suggests the additional usefulness of the entrepreneurial school of strategy, suitably adapted for public agency settings, as an explanatory prism to enlarge the repertoire of conceptual tools for the study of public agencies. Our broader argument is that the field of strategic management may provide theoretical resources for the study of public agencies, provided its theoretical lenses are properly selected and adapted.

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