National Reform Programs in Local Practices: Using Discourse as a Strategic Resource

Morten Hjelholt, Tina Blegind Jensen

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    Abstract

    This paper investigates how discourse can be mobilized as a strategic resource when introducing a public sector reform program in a local government setting. We explore how actual day-to-day practices, contexts, and processes relate to the shaping and localizing of broad strategic discourses. In particular, we emphasize the practices in which national strategic formulations are legitimized and accepted or abandoned by the actors involved. Building on a case study conducted over a two-year time span, we show how a local actor engages with and promotes a national reform program by evoking a discourse with strategic
    intentions. First we present how the national reform program is translated into a local government by the evoking of historically produced and context dependent discourses. Next we show that locally produced discourses need to be evoked and re-attached to the national reform program in order to enable new local practices. Our study shows that formal reform programs and strategies are never stable and firm objects; rather, they are constantly enacted and changed as part of discursive practices. Thus individuals enter a discursive space from where to engage strategically with the creation of new local practices.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2012
    Number of pages29
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    EventThe 28th EGOS Colloquium 2012: Design!? - Helsinki, Finland
    Duration: 5 Jul 20127 Jul 2012
    Conference number: 28
    http://www.egosnet.org/archive/2012_helsinki/general_theme

    Conference

    ConferenceThe 28th EGOS Colloquium 2012
    Number28
    CountryFinland
    CityHelsinki
    Period05/07/201207/07/2012
    Internet address

    Cite this

    Hjelholt, M., & Jensen, T. B. (2012). National Reform Programs in Local Practices: Using Discourse as a Strategic Resource. Paper presented at The 28th EGOS Colloquium 2012, Helsinki, Finland.