Chapter 1: Theory and Method in Comparative Studies of Organizational Change
1. Theory and method in comparative studies of organizational change INTRODUCTION 1.1 This book presents a comparative analysis. It is comparative in at least four senses: ● ● ● ● It compares public policymaking and management in two countries, England and Belgium. It compares two major public services, hospitals and the police. It compares shifts in national policies with what was actually happening in two specific localities (and is thus, in current parlance, a study in ‘multilevel government’). It compares developments over time (diachronic comparisons). We hope that readers will find each and all of these comparisons intrinsically interesting, but here at the outset we must warn that none of the four are straightforward. As we shall see, there are many obstacles and difficult choices involved in each of these comparisons, and the voluminous literature on public policy and management shows quite clearly that there is no academic consensus on the best way to make them. Because of this, the discussion within our book will alternate frequently between two (mutually dependent) levels: first, that of actually comparing ‘things’ (political systems, hospital financing systems and so on); and second, ways of making those comparisons – how does one do it? To give readers a framework for the substantive descriptions and discussions that come later, this first chapter will concentrate on the ‘how’ question, and will briefly introduce some of the main issues. Right at the end of the book (Chapter 9), when the substantive analyses are complete, we will return to these questions of theory and...
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