More of the same? A dual case study approach to examining change momentum in the public sector

Laura Barker, Tui Mckeown, Julie Wolfram Cox, Melanie Bryant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the significant amount of change experienced by the public sector, there has been relatively limited empirical examination of how change agendas affect public sector employees in Australia. This article presents a comparative analysis of two Australian public sector organisations that implemented the same positive work change agenda, but experienced very different outcomes. Using a critical realist approach, we draw on a mix of qualitative techniques to suggest that textbook notions of 'successful change', which are often derived from large private sector expectations, may fail to capture the complex nature of how public sector change initiatives may unfold. In particular, we demonstrate how political, temporal, contextual, and process factors interact to shift change momentum. Illustrative examples are provided throughout and the findings are discussed in terms of their implications for theory building, for change facilitation, and for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-271
Number of pages19
JournalAustralian Journal of Public Administration
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Critical realism
  • Organisational change
  • Qualitative research

Cite this