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Anna Cregård
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Models for cooperation between line-managers and techno structure experts : creating value and professionalization in local government

Cregård, Anna, Forsberg, Tina, Berntson, Erik

Conference paper (Refereegranskat)


In recent years the number of people working within the techno structure in public sector organizations has increased, for example within human resource, communication, financial control, and general administration, just as Mintzberg (1993) foresaw already in the beginning of the 1980’s[1]. Many of these occupations have initiated a professionalization process, which among other things has resulted in an increased focus on developing the profession itself, strengthening boundaries towards other occupations and functions, and elevating the jurisdiction. For example within local government human resource and communication functions the jurisdictional claim has been transferred from the operative, hands-on work to more strategic work and in partnership with strategic management[2]. The techno structure experts can be described as more professional, more knowledgeable and highly skilled, but also more detached from the everyday work of civil servants and operative managers trying to execute the public organization’s mission, hence creating public value.

Professionalization within the local governments’ techno structure is theoretically interesting. For example there is a matter of gender, since women mostly inhabit the techno structure functions. It is also interesting from a cooperation and boundary work point of view, since different models of cooperation contain different logics of negotiations, conflict and agreements. And cooperation is hard to achieve, since that requires actual prioritization and redistribution of resources[3]. In this study our aim is to develop knowledge on cooperation models between the techno structure experts and line-managers in order to create sustainable and healthy organizing that can foster public value creation. Following Zhou, et al.[4] inter-occupational cooperation is defined here as working together across boundaries in order to achieve common goals, emphasizing the multi-actor and multi-occupational relationships.

In order to investigate the content and effects of different models of cooperation we have conducted case studies in three Swedish local governments, including focus group interviews, survey data and secondary sources. We have also re-analyzed both survey data and interview data from our previous investigations on related issues in local governments.

We present three analytical models of cooperation between line-managers and techno structure experts, derived from the empirical investigation. The three models are built up by different logics, and hence create different levels of value to the public organization and common good on the one hand, and to the different functions and professions involved on the other hand. The models may be used as analytical tools for empirical and normative work for the development of the public organization, but also as a foundation for adding a little piece of the theoretical puzzle of how to create cooperation and value within local government organizations. 


[1] Mintzberg, H. (1993). Structure in fives: Designing effective organizations. Prentice-Hall, Inc. 

[2] Condrey, S.E. (2015). Public Human Resource Management: How We Get Where We are Today. Riccucci, N. M. (ed) Public Personnel Management. 1-13. Routledge. 

[3] Ashkenas, R. (2015). There’s a Difference Between Cooperation and Collaboration. Harvard Business Review, April 20, 1-6. 

[4] Zhou, J., et al. (2014). Making collaborators happy: The outcome priming effect in integrative negotiation. Public Personnel Management, 43(3), 290-300.

Cite: Cregård, Anna, Forsberg, Tina & Berntson, Erik, Models for cooperation between line-managers and techno structure experts: creating value and professionalization in local government, 2018http://programme.exordo.com/irspm2018/delegates/presentation/233/