Organizational Stability and Resocialization in Public Administrations: Theory and Evidence from Norwegian Civil Servants (1986-2016)
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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The organizational theory approach to public administration emphasizes that organizational features of public bureaucracies shape civil servants' role perceptions and opinions. This study brings forward a novel refinement of this theoretical framework by arguing that such processes of organizational resocialization require intertemporal consistency of the organizational environment. We empirically test this proposition by combining individual-level longitudinal data from a panel of Norwegian civil servants (1986–2016; N ≈ 375) with information about organizational changes in ministerial structures since 1945. Using individuals' task portfolio as our main organizational “influencer” of interest, we confirm that the impact of individuals' task portfolio on their role perceptions only strengthens over time for individuals working in ministries with a high level of organizational stability. This finding adds an important scope condition—namely, intertemporal stability—to the traditional organizational theory argument about what shapes civil servants' role perceptions and opinions.