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Why perceived size matters for agency termination

Why perceived size matters for agency termination
Why perceived size matters for agency termination
Agency size is generally assumed to be positively correlated with survival: the bigger an agency, the less likely it is to be terminated. Yet, recent research finds a very small effect of size on survival. The reason, we argue, is that it only addresses size in terms of overall operating budget – what this article calls objective size. By contrast, we use an interpretive historicist approach to show how perceived size – the meanings and beliefs of key actors concerning an agency's size – affects termination. Drawing on a case study of Australia's independent aid agency, AusAID, which endured a tumultuous history of cuts, reorganizations and rebirths, culminating in termination, we show how perceptions of the agency's size mattered. These findings both support and extend recent research showing that adaptation and reputation are critical to the survival of government agencies.
0033-3298
196-213
Corbett, Jack
ad651655-ac70-4072-a36f-92165e296ce2
Howard, Cosmo
59755d1f-d614-4e47-a2f0-05d374119ddf
Corbett, Jack
ad651655-ac70-4072-a36f-92165e296ce2
Howard, Cosmo
59755d1f-d614-4e47-a2f0-05d374119ddf

Corbett, Jack and Howard, Cosmo (2017) Why perceived size matters for agency termination. Public Administration, 95 (1), 196-213. (doi:10.1111/padm.12299).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Agency size is generally assumed to be positively correlated with survival: the bigger an agency, the less likely it is to be terminated. Yet, recent research finds a very small effect of size on survival. The reason, we argue, is that it only addresses size in terms of overall operating budget – what this article calls objective size. By contrast, we use an interpretive historicist approach to show how perceived size – the meanings and beliefs of key actors concerning an agency's size – affects termination. Drawing on a case study of Australia's independent aid agency, AusAID, which endured a tumultuous history of cuts, reorganizations and rebirths, culminating in termination, we show how perceptions of the agency's size mattered. These findings both support and extend recent research showing that adaptation and reputation are critical to the survival of government agencies.

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Accepted/In Press date: 16 October 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 23 December 2016
Published date: 16 March 2017
Organisations: Politics & International Relations

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 402179
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/402179
ISSN: 0033-3298
PURE UUID: a66b66bb-748a-432e-adf2-22bc910cb7f4
ORCID for Jack Corbett: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-2005-7162

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Date deposited: 02 Nov 2016 16:56
Last modified: 09 Jan 2022 05:58

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Contributors

Author: Jack Corbett ORCID iD
Author: Cosmo Howard

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