Multiple Shades of Grey: Opening the Black Box of Public Sector Executives’ Hybrid Role Identities

Stephan Leixnering, Andrea Schikowitz, Gerhard Hammerschmid, Renate Meyer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


Public sector reforms of recent decades in Europe have promoted managerialism and aimed at introducing private sector thinking and practices. However, with regard to public sector executives’ self-understanding, managerial role identities have not replaced bureaucratic ones; rather, components from both paradigms were combined. In this chapter, we introduce a bi-dimensional identity approach (attitudes and practices) that allows for different combinations and forms of hybridity. Empirically, we explore the role identities of public sector executives across Europe, building on survey data from over 7,000 top public officials in 19 countries (COCOPS survey). We identify country-level profiles, as well as patterns across countries, and find that administrative traditions can account for these profiles and patterns only to a limited extent. Rather, they have to be complemented by factors such as stability of the institutional environment (indicating lower shares of hybrid combinations) or extent of reform pressures (indicating higher shares of hybrid combinations).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBureaucracy and Society in Transition
EditorsHaldor Byrkjeflot, Fredrik Engelstad
Place of PublicationBingley
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing
Publication date2018
ISBN (Print)9781787432840
ISBN (Electronic)9781787432833
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Public sector reforms
  • Role identities
  • Public sector executives
  • Hybridisation
  • Bureaucracy
  • Managerialism
  • Administrative traditions

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