Ever since Max Weber and Frederick Taylor, public organizations have been told that effective practice lies in maximizing rationality through science. Yet science-based management reforms have had only marginal impact on performance. People in entry-level positions possess knowledge from direct experience of the work, management knowledge is often science-based and distanced from the work, and appointed top executives struggle to join bureaucratic rationality with political exigencies. Knowledge and Power in Public Bureaucracies: From Pyramid to Circle offers fresh thinking about public organizations, arguing that conflicting forms of knowledge may be found within the bureaucratic pyramid.
Answering the question of why management reforms over the past century have failed on their own terms, this book examines the existence of conflicting forms of knowledge within public bureaucracies, how these contradictory perspectives interact (or fail to interact), and the ways in which these systems preserve managerial efforts to control workers. Authors Carnevale and Stivers argue that bureaucratic rationality is not the "one best way," as Taylor promised, and indeed, there is no one best way or model that can be deployed in all situations. The bureaucratic pyramid can, however, be made more effective by paying attention to circular processes that are widespread within the hierarchy, the authors argue, describing such circular processes as "facework." This book will serve as an ideal supplement to introductory public administration and organizational theory courses, as well as courses for mid-career professionals, helping to frame their work experiences.
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
Number of pages: 222
Weight: 590 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 mm
In a time in which work is dominated by advanced technology, performance management, and data fetishism, Carnevale and Stivers remind us of the phenomena residing within the minds, hearts, hands, and mouths of the worker that is rarely fully appreciated or known by others separated from the work. Knowledge and Power in Public Bureaucracies: From Pyramid to Circle lays bare a deep sense of the knowledge and identity crisis facing organizations and presents a path forward by arguing that judgement and wisdom are made virtuous when managers and workers are in partnership. This book has application across many disciplines and is essential for those currently in or thinking about a career in the public sector.
Nicholas C. Zingale, Cleveland State University, USA
Carnevale and Stivers' Knowledge and Power in Public Bureaucracies: From Pyramid to Circle is of a type along with Scott's Seeing Like a State. Both specify technical/cognitive knowledge (techne) separately from experiential/embodied knowledge (metis). The contribution made by Carnevale and Stivers, however, is to situate these distinct ways of knowing within the bureaucratic hierarchy to explain why management reforms fail. Until management speaks a language identifiable by public servants on the front lines, reforms that attempt to control the front line and make it legible to the C-suite will continue to fail. This book puts to rest, once and for all, the argument that government should run like a business.
Sharon Mastracci, University of Utah, USA