'Keeping things moving': Space and the construction of middle management identity in a post-NPM organization

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Journal Article
Discourse and Communication, 2009, 3 (1), pp. 5 - 25
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Reforms associated with New Public Management (NPM) have led to changes in the management of work and organization that challenge the stability, durability and linearity of the managerial hierarchy in contemporary public sector workplaces. Against this background, this article considers the ways in which two clinician-managers who work in a large metropolitan teaching hospital speak about their organizational roles. Reflecting the complexity of their part of the organization, the emergency department, the interviewees position themselves as operating at the interstice between the competing and contradictory spatial logics of locality and mobility. With their identities strongly anchored in emergency as locality, the clinician-managers intervene in the flows of meanings and resources that affect its processes in ways that require intra- and inter-organizational mobility and which are incommensurate with traditional perceptions of middle managers. In regarding the interviews as 'practical authoring' (Shotter and Cunliffe, 2003), we note our own spatial ambiguity as academic researchers interested in organizations other than our own and suggest that our insider-outsider positionings are reflected in the interviews' complex spatialities. We conclude that the interviewees' boundary-spanning and cross-spatial self-positionings are indicative of the hybrid roles that workers under NPM increasingly embody and are in contrast to traditional perceptions of how the provision and management of public service work is carried out. © 2009 SAGE Publications.
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