Understanding cultural aspects of bureaucratic reforms

: the case of Indonesian public institutions

  • Yulian Wihantoro

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Abstract

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This thesis is aimed to seek an in-depth understanding of how an extensive bureaucratic reform programme has been implemented in two critically important Indonesian public institutions. In doing so, this research contributes to the limited literature on the interactions between two powerful forces, bureaucratic reforms and culture. An ethnographic approach was adopted, in which the researcher was immersed in the life of the selected case organisations.
The reforms have moved the case organisations towards a more bureaucratic organisational form. While this has provided some quick wins in improving their effectiveness, some critical challenges were and are still faced by the case organisations, particularly related to the ingrained organisational culture, which is dominated by the native Javanese culture. The clash between Weber’s rational legal bureaucracy and Javanese culture demonstrates an important challenge to the reform programme.
This research extends a relatively thin literature on the topic of control and culture in the Indonesian context. Also, this thesis fills a gap in the theoretic approaches for studying bureaucracy, which is dominated by Western theorisations. This study provides a reminder to the policy makers (including international donors) of the consequences of neglecting the cultural implications on bureaucratic reforms. Moreover, as the case organisations are designed to serve as a pilot of the reform programme, the recommendations of this research can be seen as timely and important.
The vast empirical data on the change of control systems as a result of the bureaucratic reform programme is a strength of this research, particularly due to the uniqueness of the research setting. Furthermore, the research makes an important contribution by drawing attention of the relation and importance of an awareness of native culture in a process of public sector reforms.
Date of Award26 Jun 2012
LanguageEnglish
SupervisorAlan D Lowe (Supervisor) & Stuart M Cooper (Supervisor)

Keywords

  • Bureaucracy
  • Javanese Culture
  • Reforms
  • Ethnography, Indonesia

Cite this

Understanding cultural aspects of bureaucratic reforms : the case of Indonesian public institutions
Wihantoro, Y. (Author). 26 Jun 2012

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy