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By J. van Ellinkhuizen


Quality initiatives and innovations are increasingly part of public organizations. It is thought that by spreading best practices, public organizations will be able to improve their services. I take up the language of actor-network theory (ANT) to counter the common notion of spreading best practices. Rather than being spread to organizations and either adopted or resisted by organizational members, the package that constitutes the best practice becomes translated on location. This paper draws on ethnographic research in an organization that provides care for the handicapped and takes part in a nationally organized quality initiative. In taking up ANT’s assumption of symmetry between humans and non-humans, I draw attention to how what constitutes as good care is negotiated by caregivers, managers and clients, but also by buildings, coffeemakers and forms. Furthermore, drawing attention to the assembling of humans and non-humans offers a way out of the classic debate between agency and structure. Together, both arguments allow me to reconceptualize change as artful integration

Topics: Utrechtse School voor Bestuurs- en Organisatiewetenschap, Organizational change, innovation, managers, quality improvement collaborative, actor network theory, sociology of translation
Year: 2009
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