Previous Chapter Chapter 12: Environmental Perspectives on Public Institutions Next Chapter

Karen M. Hult

In: Handbook of Public Administration

Chapter 12: Environmental Perspectives on Public Institutions

Edited by: B. Guy Peters & Jon Pierre

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781848608214.n13

Subject: Public Administration (general)

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Environmental Perspectives on Public Institutions
Environmental perspectives on public institutions

‘Beware’, Charles Perrow warned, of ‘unspecified “environments”’ (Perrow, 1986: 278). His primary concern was that analysts should not ignore powerful actors and interests that might manipulate organizations or their members. More sharply delimited environments also are critical to myriad others, including public administration scholars seeking fuller understanding of the activities, evolution and impact of government organizations, and agency officials hoping to improve, or at least maintain, funding, performance or constituency support.

As in organization theory more generally, conceptions of organizational (and institutional) environments in public administration have been ‘undergoing rapid and varied transformations’ (Scott, 1995: 44). This chapter traces some of this development, directing particular attention to views of environmental dynamics drawn from theories of contingency, resource ...

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