Are public organizations suffering from repetitive change injury? A panel study of the damaging effect of intense reform sequences

Jan Wynen, Koen Verhoest, Bjorn Kleizen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In the last decade, reforms in the public sector have been implemented at an ever‐increasing pace. Hereby, organizations are repetitively subject to mergers, splits, absorptions, or secessions of units; the adoption of new tasks; changes in legal status; and other structural reforms. Although evidence is largely missing in the literature, there is a growing belief that such intense reform sequences may be damaging to organizations. This article aims to fill this gap in the literature by empirically examining the existence of such repetitive change injury for public organizations. To do so, we employ organizational absenteeism rates as an indicator for repetitive change injury and link this to the reform sequences an organization experienced. Results indicate that intense reform sequences disproportionally increase organizational absenteeism rates, supporting the existence of repetitive change injury and suggesting that reforms remain rooted in organizational memories for a longer time than is often assumed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)695-713
JournalGovernance: An International Journal of Policy and Administration
Issue number4
Early online dateMar 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


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