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Legitimate sovereignty and contested authority in public management organization and disorganization: Barangaroo and the grand strategic vision for Sydney as a globalizing city

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Stewart Clegg


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This article takes an interpretive view of what ‘public management’ implies in the context of the strategies and processes involved in major infrastructure development, in this case, of prime harbourside public land, now known as Barangaroo, in the centre of the city of Sydney, New South Wales (NSW), Australia. This development, in part, is meant to position Sydney as a globalizing city, at the centre of financial services in the Asia Pacific region. The article uses Clegg's ideas of ‘circuits of power’ to develop an analytical framework and employs a qualitative, case study approach based on a wide range of documents and media reports in the public domain. It addresses the processes of public management in the Barangaroo development, focusing on strategic agenda setting and leadership; organizing by rules; contract relations; no-cost-to government policy; organizing by precedent, especially those embedded in institutional responsibilities and responses; and stakeholder management. It demonstrates that at each stage in the process these have been characterized less by the rhetoric of public management and more by a disorganization of this rhetoric by a complex politics flowing through distinct circuits of power. The critical finding is that public management in the context of a large economic infrastructure development, especially when government is attempting to position a city globally, is far more complex and political than the prevailing rhetoric of the New Public Management, of considered rationality, would suggest.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Johnston J, Clegg SR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Change Management

Year: 2012

Volume: 12

Issue: 3

Pages: 279-299

Online publication date: 14/06/2012

ISSN (print): 1469-7017

ISSN (electronic): 1479-1811

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/14697017.2012.673071


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