More reforms, less innovation? The impact of structural reform histories on innovation-oriented cultures in public organizations

Jan Wynen*, Koen Verhoest, Bjorn Kleizen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The environments of public organizations have become substantially volatile due to economic and societal changes, requiring organizations to continuously adapt and to develop an innovation-oriented culture. In response to the multitude of challenges posed by this volatile environment, politicians in inter alia the executive and parliament impose structural reforms upon public organizations, implying that these organizations might be confronted with a series of structural reforms over their lifetime. This paper advances that a history of repeated and frequent structural reforms, irrespective of the underlying drivers of these reforms, has a negative effect on the innovation-orientedness of the organizational culture. We explore the link between an organization's history of structural reforms and the degree to which the culture within these organizations is innovation-oriented. Results indicate that organizational turmoil generated by repeated structural reforms reduces innovativeness and suggest that too many structural reforms imposed in a too short time span will have detrimental side effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1142-1164
Number of pages23
JournalPublic Management Review
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Organizational culture
  • structural reform history
  • innovation

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