Improvement and Public Service Relationships: Cultural Theory and Institutional Work



Simmons R (2016) Improvement and Public Service Relationships: Cultural Theory and Institutional Work. Public Administration, 94 (4), pp. 933-952.

This article examines the influence of cultural-institutional factors on user–provider relationships in public services. Using Grid-Group Cultural Theory (CT) as a way to structure the complexity of public service relationships, the article considers the extent to which public services are attuned to users' relational concerns. This analysis shows particular tensions between how users think the service ‘should be’ compared with how they think the service ‘actually is’. Additional study evidence is used to assess these findings; in particular, the effects of different patterns of compatibility on both the perceived quality of public service relationships and the value added by this. Finally, relationships between ‘good opportunities’ for user voice and the above results are discussed. In response, opportunities for improvement are identified (within the institutional work done by public service organizations), and the implications for the relative value of CT analysis are discussed.

Public Administration: Volume 94, Issue 4

Publication date31/12/2016
Publication date online16/05/2016
Date accepted by journal04/12/2015

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Professor Richard Simmons

Professor Richard Simmons

Professor, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology