- Translating agency reform through durable rhetorical styles: comparing official agency talk across consensus and adversarial contexts
- Public Administration
- Volume | Issue number
- 88 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
This article directs attention to the role of ideational variables in shaping public management reform initiatives. It considers the contribution of both endogenous rhetorical styles and exogenous international fashions in explaining official agency talk in consensus and adversarial contexts. Departing from an earlier observation that convergence in talk across contexts is more likely than convergence in practice (Pollitt 2001), this article demonstrates that symbolic convergence is also limited. It is found that agency talk is primarily a consequence of national styles of speaking, rather than the limited adoptions of a common international story. Secondly, the article demonstrates that rhetorical theories can enrich the concept of translation by providing tools for making explicit the rules through which international fashions are mediated in national contexts. It is found that financial officials have been responsible for the introduction of the similar (Anglo-Saxon) stories that have achieved consensus in political administrative contexts, but that this has not brought about cultural homogenization.
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